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Good News for Humanity

What Abraham Lincoln described as “the better angels of our nature” seem to have gone into hiding in today's world. But every now and then, stories of people emerge that give us reason to hope for the ultimate triumph of human decency.

CANBERRA – Bad news is all around us. The world confronts the possibility of a sexist, racist ignoramus occupying the White House next January. Unreconstructed authoritarians already are in charge in Russia and China. Populists of varying ugliness are winning elections from Poland to the Philippines. And Islamophobia is overriding compassion in almost every country, including my own, that must respond to the current refugee crisis. What Abraham Lincoln described in his first inaugural address as “the better angels of our nature” seem to have gone into hiding.

But every now and then, stories of people emerge that give us reason to hope for the ultimate triumph of human decency. Four such stories I have recently come across may be particularly helpful in dispelling some of the prevailing gloom. Celebrated last month in Yerevan, Armenia, at a ceremony to award the inaugural Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, these people’s stories are worth more global attention than they received at the time.

One of the finalists, Father Bernard Kinvi, leads a hospital mission serving a large area in the middle of the Central African Republic. When the vicious sectarian war between Muslim rebels and Christian militias flared across the country, tearing apart the community he served, he treated the wounds of fighters and hid victims from both sides without fear or prejudice. He did this at immense personal risk for months on end, repeatedly threatened by leaders on both sides for aiding the enemy.

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