By Joe Rector

It’s been another hard few weeks for us in the USA. Impeachment inquiries continue, Mick Mulvaney confirmed the “quid pro quo” before trying to deny it, and US troops abandoned the Kurdish allies in Syria. We’re reeling from the bad news, and some feel downright depressed at the way our country is going.

I’m one who has serious worries about what is going on. To my detriment, much of my time is spent watching news; that always leads to feeling down and out. However, sometimes something occurs that makes things just the least bit brighter.

Some programs on television include a “feel good story” with each airing. Just the other day, “Sunday Morning” showed a segment about a stepdad and son. The man had been a part of the son’s life from age five. Now he plays college football, and to honor his “dad,” the athlete had the man’s name sewn on his jersey in place his own. The stepdad was speechless, and the embrace and the tears that followed had viewers every bit as teary-eyed.

Former NFL player Warwick Dunn has quietly given 145 single parents houses. His charity works with Habitat for Humanity to reward deserving folks, but the entire program is kept below the radar. It’s refreshing to hear about someone who performs large acts of kindness without making sure the press is covering it. Just being interested in giving to others and sharing his wealth seem to be Dunn’s motives. That reinforces my faith in humanity.

An Oregon high school coach saved the life of a mentally-disturbed student who brought a gun to school. Keanon Lowe grabbed the weapon from the student, but instead of attacking the boy, the man hugged him and later sat down in the hallway with the boy until law enforcement officers arrived. In short, the coach probably saved the life of the student. He also kept an officer from having to choose whether or not to take the life of the boy.

Somehow, our pets seem to know when our hopes are low or our moods are blue. I can fret about the direction our country is traveling and can let foul feelings take over my mood. My dog Sadie senses those “down times” and takes action. She’ll jump up on the couch and nudge her head at my legs until I raise the recliner. Then she curls between my legs and lays her head on my shin. I begin to pet her, and before I’m aware, the low tide of feelings is gone. An even keel and contentment with being quiet and still takes over. Just being with Sadie is enough.

The coming weeks will be filled with more news about bad things in our country and in the world. We’re in that kind of cycle right now. However, I still believe that more good people than bad people exist in this life. We all need to put more effort into performing those acts of kindness that uplift others and ourselves. That can be called finding “our better angels.” At the same time, we can learn from those animals who are like family members to us. They teach us to just live and love unconditionally. If we can do those things, a little light will shine in the darkness.