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Leslie Knope, Jean-Luc Picard and Kermit the Frog.

A recent thread on Ask Reddit posed the question: Which fictional character would make a great U.S.A. president?

Some answers were simple and lighthearted. Others were drawn out and thoughtful. Some characters are well-known. Others are a bit more obscure. Regardless, it’s a fun read and offers an insightful way to look at what it really means to be a leader.


Optimus Prime—Transformers

transformers optimus prime GIF Giphy

This comment was so passionate I had to keep the entire thing:

He's the perfect balance of introspection, deliberation, decisive action, compassion, toughness, fighting spirit, humility, and inspires others to greatness not because of his ego, but because he sincerely wants the best for everyone. He's eloquent enough to work with intellectuals, strong enough to keep corruption out, hard working and honest enough to connect with and inspire the working classes, and an absolute paragon of ethics. When it comes down to it, he puts his own ass on the line without hesitation. I'd vote for Optimus Prime. I'd work on his campaign staff. I'd canvas for Optimus. I'd fight his fights. He's the heroic leader we need. I wish he were here.” – Cephelopodia

Jean-Luc Picard—Star Trek: The Next Generation

jean luc picard, star trek next generation Well Done Reaction GIF Giphy

“Make it so” is an awfully good campaign slogan.

“This character has informed so much of what I think of as the political ideal that's it's almost absurd.” – Tactius_AMP

Aragorn—The Lord of the Rings

lotr, aragorn the lord of the rings GIF Giphy

The King of Gondor rallied some intense loyalty and humorous political banter.

He would have my allegiance until my sons, sons die.” – Radda210

Well, he’s got eight years.” – AutismFractal

Captain Raymond Holt—Brooklyn 99

brooklyn 99 Season 8 Nbc GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine Giphy

The stoic, pragmatic and serious-to-the-point-of-absurd police captain would bring a level of sophistication to the role. Plus he stands up for what he thinks is right.

The only drawback is we might have the more frivolous holidays cancelled. Like Christmas.

President Josiah Bartlet—The West Wing

west wing, aaron sorkin The West Wing Lesson GIF by HBO Max Giphy

During 2020 with all the presidential speeches that sounded non presidential, I kept thinking that we needed a couple of Josiah Barlet speeches during that time.” – southdakotagirl

Uncle Iroh—Avatar: The Last Airbender

avatar last air bender, uncle iroh Animated GIF Giphy

For those not familiar with "Avatar: The Last Airbender," Uncle Iroh was a fan favorite, arguably for being the show’s moral compass and source of wisdom. Which was pretty remarkable, considering he was technically on the “bad side.”

Calm, wise, friendly and best of all he already got all that war crime stuff out of his system years ago. He’d be the best us President in history.” – Lord Noodles

…Iroh is the benevolent father we need, with quiet dignity and terrifying power.” – spaceman_spyff

Kermit the Frog—The Muppets

muppets, kermit Press Conference Kermit GIF Giphy

The lovers, the dreamers, and me would vote for him” – DrOddcat

Steve Rogers—Captain America

captain america, steve rodgers captain america GIF Giphy

I mean, he does stand for America’s ideals like no other. He has integrity, courage, honesty and let’s not forget stamina. He can do this all day, after all.

Leslie Knope—Parks and Recreation

parks and rec, leslie knope Season 1 Leslie GIF by Parks and Recreation Giphy

Leslie wouldn’t get sucked in to corruption. She would negotiate and compromise, as one should, but she wouldn’t “make deals” like most politicians. Above all else, she would always be honest!” – Happy_Camper45

And she has binders of plans for everything” – Big_Economy_1729

(Sadly, there were very few female characters I saw on the thread. I’m hoping I just didn’t scroll far down enough.)

Last but not least … Captain Planet

captain planet, 90s cartoons Captain Planet Film GIF Giphy

Maybe then we’d take climate change seriously.

Okay, look, maybe it’s impossible for a real-life person to 100% embody these heroic traits. But that’s the beauty of fiction: It reveals our ultimate potential (for both good and bad). It can’t always take into account all the complexities and inevitable drawbacks of the human condition. It can, however, inspire us to be better.

Maybe there is no President Picard or President Rogers out there, but seeing them portrayed in our stories is still important. Observing the virtues they represent (and let’s not forget that they are representations and symbols, rather than multidimensional human beings, after all) might help inspire the next generation of heroes, leaders and politicians. That’s what well-written characters do.

In the meantime, I’ll start working on my campaign for "Ted Lasso"’s Keeley Jones for President.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Freya from Maya Higa's YouTube video.

Ever wonder what an ideal date for a lemur would be? Or a lizard’s favorite Disney princess?

Thanks to one YouTube poster with a passion for animals and an endearing sense of humor, all questions shall be answered. Well, maybe not all questions. But at the very least, you’ll have eight minutes of insanely cute footage.

In a series titled “Tiny Mic Interviews,” Maya Higa approaches little beasties with a microphone so small she has to hold it with just her thumb and forefinger. And yes, 99% of the animals try to eat it.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Family

2 photos of a woman's bedroom reveal just how powerful depression can be.

"We need to be able to talk to each other about our feelings, even the bad ones."

This article originally appeared on September 7, 2016

Jonna Roslund is a 26-year-old from Sweden who lives with depression.

Photo via Jonna Roslund, used with permission.

Living with a mental illness affects many areas of a person's life, including one annoyance most of us can relate to: the dread of household chores.

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A round-up of delights from around the internet this week.

Hey all!

Welcome to Upworthy's weekly roundup of delights from around the internet. This week's list features a little of everything—gorgeous music, cute kids, adorable animals, hope for the planet and a brand new video message from the late and great Betty White.

That's right, Betty White left us a message of gratitude shortly before her passing. It's brief, but how lovely to see and hear her speak to her millions of fans one last time. Few celebrities are as universally beloved as Betty White was, and though we knew she couldn't live forever, it would have been fun to see her celebrate her 100th birthday. Now, at least, we get to experience her joy and warmth with a few last words.

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