Welcome back! Smart Brevity™ count: 459 words ... 2 mins. Copy edited by Amy Stern.

1 big thing: Looking for hope

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

In the flurry of headlines about war, the higher cost of living, political polarization and more, it can be difficult to see the big picture — which actually shows us that there is a great deal of hope in the world.

  • Why it matters: That's the chief purpose of Finish Line — to illuminate happy, healthy, hopeful and helpful news when a lot of what we see and read can leave us feeling hopeless.

🔭 The big picture: Nicholas Kristof — longtime New York Times columnist and author of a new memoir, "Chasing Hope: A Reporter’s Life" — has had a front row seat to despair around the world, covering conflict, poverty and human rights abuses. But he writes, "What I've learned from four decades of covering misery is hope — both the reasons for hope and the need for hope."

  • "[W]henever I hear that America has never been such a mess or so divided, I think not just of the Civil War but of my own childhood: the assassinations of the 1960s; the riots; the murders of civil rights workers; the curses directed at returning Vietnam veterans; the families torn apart at generational seams; the shooting of students at Kent State; the leftists in America and abroad who quoted Mao and turned to violence because they thought society could never evolve."
  • "If we got through that, we can get through this."

🥊 Reality check: As we've reported, the world faces numerous real, dire threats. Climate risk looms over huge swaths of the world's population. And homeownership in America is increasingly out of reach.

  • But we also rarely pay attention to the markers of incredible progress America, and the world, has made.

💡 Here are some examples:

  1. 1 million fewer children will die this year than in 2016 as global poverty plummets and health care gets better and better.
  2. 200 years ago, in the 1820s, just 10% of adults in the world could read and write. Now 90% can.
  3. Just 8% of the world is living in extreme poverty.
  4. Americans are living longer, healthier lives, and transforming what older age looks like. Happiness actually peaks in the 70s.
  5. And just this week, The Washington Post's David Von Drehle wrote about how we're making breakthroughs in our understanding of the human brain through new research methods, including AI.

The bottom line: We must pay attention to all the critical reporting about inequities and injustices and do our part to fight them. But it's worth remembering that there's a long list of reasons to be hopeful.

🦆 Parting shots!

Sunrise and sunset over an ocean in a diptych
Photos: Betsy Bernard

This stunning sunrise (left) and sunset (right) were captured on the same day in Duck, N.C., by reader Betsy Bernard.