We held a Q & A about building a better world. The answers will boost your faith in humanity.

If you spend much time on social media, it may seem like the world is plagued by seemingly intractable divides. But deep down, most of us really want the same thing—a healthy planet where people get along, have enough, and work together to build a better world. Even if we disagree on how to get there, we all want to believe that a peaceful, prosperous future is possible.


At Upworthy, we believe in the power of people coming together to solve problems. That's why we've partnered with the United Nations as it commemorates 75 years of encouraging international cooperation on global issues. Since 1945, the UN has been at the forefront of finding and implementing solutions to the challenges facing humanity, bringing nearly every country on earth to the table to work toward international peace, human rights, and social progress for all. We think that's pretty awesome.

To kick off this 75th anniversary year, we wanted to hear from individuals and organizations about where humanity is at in 2020 and how we can best get to where we want to be. So we held a Twitter #UpChat and asked 10 questions about building a hopeful future. Here are the questions, along with some responses that will boost your faith that we humans, despite some inevitable fumblings, are collectively headed in the right direction.

Question 1: What's one thing that's positive about the current state of our world?

World Food Program USA shared some encouraging statistics about extreme poverty, health, access to electricity, and hunger and expressed hope for achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

Teacher Will McDonough reminded us that every time a tragedy, setback, or failure happens, "there emerges a swelling tide of courageous humans willing to go to battle in the name of justice and good." Beautifully said.

Question 2: What's one thing you'd like to change about the current state of our world?

Together First responded that they would like to see "a world where diverse voices calling for change are given a seat at the global decision making table." (Here's one example of why representation matters: Peace agreements last 35% longer when women sit at the negotiating table.)

RELATED: We'll start seeing more lasting peace when women get more seats at the negotiating table.

Silvio Gonzato aptly explained the growing problem with the spread of disinformation, and called for "new normative frameworks which respect freedom of speech but guarantee access to quality information."

Question 3: What does a positive future look like to you? Are we on track?

The Better India envisioned a world "where every time we do or buy something, it turns into a positive ripple effect for the planet and its people."

And Priyanka Jaisinghani wrote, "A positive future means equal access to education, resources and opportunities. A place where girls are elevated, have the opportunity to obtain an education and learn & exercise their rights." YES. (Here's why empowering girls and women is important.)

Question 4: How can we take on climate change?

Plus Social Good laid down the basics: "We need to wake up to the fact that we are in a climate crisis. It is not time for small measures or hesitancy. It's time for big dreams and larger actions."

17-year-old Irish climate activist Saoi offered a specific goal to "reach zero emissions" as well as to "center the conversation around justice and reparations for the global south." (You can find more information about climate change and the global south here.)

Question 5: What's an action you can take (micro or macro) to better our planet?

Girls Not Brides, an organization that works to end child marriage, pointed out that you can "Raise your voice, share the facts, and support the work of activists, campaigns and organisations." Indeed, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. There are many groups working on the ground who can benefit from support and amplification, an action anyone can take.

RELATED: The UN wants to help refugees in an incredible call to action.

Alejandra got specific with her own individual actions, including eating less meat, recycling, educating people to identify and prevent slavery, and promote equality in her workplace. "Local action can ensure global progress," she wrote.

Question 6: What does the world you want to live in look like 25 years from now?

Giving Tuesday wrote, "We need to be supporting organisations that are feeding the hungry, sheltering the unsheltered, healing the wounded; but a positive future is one that uses generosity to fuel systematic + structural change so that those problems don't exist in the first place." Now there's some food for thought.

Leia Cator painted a simple but wonderful sounding future: "25 years from now, I want the world to revolve with sustainable energy, vibrant wilderness, and exciting technology discoveries."

Question 7: Out of the following five issue areas, what are you most optimistic about improving in the next 25 years? Digital world, conflict & violence, inequality, climate, or shifting populations?

Though some people responded with specific issue areas, many agreed that all five must be addressed because they are interconnected.

As StandUp for kids wrote, "If we don't address all five, we aren't likely to see meaningful improvements in any. They are rightly interconnected, and I think that creative change makers must address them all." This is why conversations like this one are vital.

Question 8: What do you hope world leaders do to engage youth in envisioning and creating the future?

The subject of youth as leaders kept coming in in answers to all of these questions, which is an encouraging sign for the future of our planet.

As World Food Program USA pointed out, youth are already "very engaged and active in causes that matter." Therefore, "leaders should listen to them, be inspired by them, work with them, and help them contribute to their communities."

Priyanka Jaisinghani also pointed out that "Our current & rising generations are demanding deeper commitment and bolder actions. Leaders need to not only include youth in conversations, but collaborate as equal partners."

Question 9: What would you like to see as an outcome from conversations between youth and global leaders?

Sarah Siraj expressed a desire for world leaders to "empathise with the youth and the anxiety they are facing about the political, social and physical climate we live in as opposed to trivialise it. The genuine intent to listen, understand and help is what I'm hoping for."

And Emmanuel Nyame brought some truth to the table, pointing out that "Young people are always engaged just for the visuals and not to use our ideas in national planning and policies," adding, "This attitude must stop! Please!"

Question 10: How can countries and people come together to create better global cooperation for our future?

"Celebrate active citizenship," wrote Conservation International. "Listen to each other, share knowledge and skills, encourage contribution, and drive action, both on a local level and globally."

And Annie Rosenthal added that listening to each other means shifting our hearing toward people instead of profiteers. "We need to start listening to working class people instead of CEOs," she wrote. "We need leaders to be courageous instead of self-interested. We need to reimagine power and change."

Reimagining power and change might just sum up the answers to all of these questions.

The global conversation is just getting started, and you can be a part of it. Share your thoughts on "achieving our shared vision for a safer, fairer and more sustainable world" by participating in a UN75 survey here.

And if you need some encouragement in lending your voice to the conversation, these young people are showing us how it's done. The future is in good hands, but we all have a role to play in shaping it.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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The situation inspired an open letter addressing the issue signed by over 500 former "Jeopardy!" contestants.

Throughout Donoahue's brief run on the show, he signaled the number of games he won through hand gestures. After his first win last Friday, he held up one finger and after his Monday victory, he held up two. That was all fine and good. But it was after his third victory that things got complicated.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.