16 Uplifting Facts We Learned In 2021 That Made Us Feel Better About The World

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Vote up the facts that lift your spirits.

Uplifting facts remind us there's a lot of good in the world. Whether it's people helping people, animals receiving aid, or simple acts of support, these facts can make us smile and warm our hearts.

The uplifting facts we learned in 2021 include both well-known figures and obscure individuals we've never heard of - but across the board, they make us feel a little bit better about the past, present, and maybe even the future. 

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    A Japanese Railroad Waited To Close A Train Station Until After Its Only Customer Graduated From High School

    Like many high school students, Japanese teenager Kana Harada commuted to school every day via train. She was the only passenger, however, who caught the train from the Kyu-Shirataki station.

    Considering how underused Kyu-Shirataki was, the company that ran the train line intended to shut down the station. But they agreed to keep it open for one more year - long enough for Harada to finish school without needing to change her commute. In other words, the train made a special stop just for her.

    In January 2016, Kana noted, "I got on and off of this train for the past three years and this station's presence has become something I have taken for granted. I do feel sad to think that it will disappear. I am now filled with gratitude."

    The station closed immediately after Kana graduated from high school on March 25, 2016.

    1,883 votes
  • By the mid-1950s, Jonas Salk and his team at the University of Pittsburgh developed a safe and effective vaccine for polio that was a game-changer. But who technically "owned" the vaccine? 

    Salk told interviewer Edward R. Murrow:

    The people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

    Even though he developed the vaccine, Salk decided not to seek a patent because it belonged to everyone. 

    Salk's decision was praised by many observers. In her book Patenting the Sun: Polio and the Salk Vaccine, author Jane Smith said lawyers for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis explored patenting the vaccine but didn't believe they met the requirements to receive one. 

    1,570 votes
  • Founded in 1852 by Dr. Charles West, the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) was the first hospital in the United Kingdom to focus exclusively on treating children. In 1929, the author of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, bequeathed the rights to his work to the hospital - which came as quite a surprise to GOSH.

    According to the hospital's website, Barrie had been a long-time supporter of GOSH, and in 1929 was invited to be on a committee to buy land for a new hospital wing. Barrie said no, but still wanted to help, so two months later, he donated all his rights to Peter Pan to the hospital. The author later explained: "At one time, Peter Pan was an invalid in the hospital... and it was he who put me up to the little thing I did." 

    Barrie requested that the money Peter earns for GOSH never be revealed, so the total royalties remain unknown. However, the hospital states the copyright has provided "a significant source of income." 

    1,336 votes
  • Mark Hamill Spent A Day As Luke Skywalker To Grant The Wish Of A Dying Child
    Photo: Star Wars / 20th Century Fox

    In 2017, screenwriter Ed Solomon tweeted about an occasion when Mark Hamill helped fulfill the wish of a terminally ill child named John Sikorra:

    Not knowing Mark, I called his agent and explained that this lovely boy watched Star Wars every day and wanted to meet NOT Mark Hamill, but, rather, the actual CHARACTER that he played (the boy's own mental state had devolved past the point of being able to grok [understand] that Luke was fictional). The agent begrudgingly said he'd call Mark, but also said not to get my hopes up. [Ninety] seconds later I got a call from Mark Hamill who immediately said yes and gave me his home address. He not only met with the boy, but spent hours answering question after question (sometimes the same ones repeatedly), AS "Luke."

    Hamill, for his part, chimed in on Twitter, adding:

    There's no sweeter sound than a child laughing... I've been so lucky - feel it's my duty [to] give back in any way I can... Much prefer visits [to] hospitals than talk shows... Heartbreaking but inspirational - makes my career seem trivial in comparison... Wish I could do more.

    Hamill did do more, according to a later tweet from Solomon. When John and his brother expressed their desire to meet Princess Leia as well, Hamill said "Can’t hurt to ask" and called actress Carrie Fisher. Fisher was willing to meet with the boy - "she had only two questions: 'Where?' and 'When?'"  - but his condition deteriorated before she could. 

    1,952 votes
  • Mr. Rogers Narrated Himself Feeding The Fish For The Benefit Of His Blind Viewers
    Photo: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood / PBS

    Fred Rogers first introduced his fish to viewers in the second season of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to show children what it means to be responsible when caring for a pet. The feeding became a daily routine on the show, but he didn't always declare that he was feeding the fish - meaning fans with limited vision missed out. 

    He then received a letter from a blind viewer named Katie:

    Dear Mister Rogers, Please say when you are feeding your fish, because I worry about them. I can’t see if you are feeding them, so please say you are feeding them out loud. Katie, age 5.

    (Father’s note: Katie is blind, and she does cry if you don’t say that you have fed the fish.)

    Rogers honored her request.

    1,823 votes
  • During WWII, One German Pilot Escorted An American Pilot To Safety, And The Two Men Later Became Friends
    Photo: Valor Studios / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    1,815 VOTES

    During WWII, One German Pilot Escorted An American Pilot To Safety, And The Two Men Later Became Friends

    In late 1943, American pilot Charles Brown's plane took a beating during a bombing mission over Germany. Because Brown was flying over German airspace, he didn't want to entertain the possibility of landing there. 

    Noticing that Brown's plane was vulnerable, Franz Stigler - a German pilot - decided to help a fellow human. Stigler flew his plane alongside Brown's to protect it from German fire and escorted it to the North Sea so Brown could make it safely back to his base in England.

    Decades after Stigler's act of compassion, he and Brown reconnected and became friends. When the two men reunited in 1990, they expressed love for one another and remained close until they both died in 2008.

    1,815 votes