It’s spring. The chill has finally gone out of the air and our thoughts begin to turn to notions of summer vacations, family picnics and a welcome end to a very long winter. No matter where you are, the very idea of this season and the word itself inevitably invokes the notion of hope. As I look at our stories in this issue, I see many examples of people who embody that idea – and the human capacity for holding out hope against odds that may seem overwhelming.
One of the first stories to come our way while planning this issue was Kenneth McMillan. He went from his OU undergraduate degree to medical school and onto a rural hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he and his wife, Ginny, battled malaria, cholera, meningitis and plague for 13 years. They brought healing – and hope – to 300,000 villagers, overcoming daunting odds against the devastation of disease with practical solutions like mosquito netting to prevent malaria and better hygiene to stem the spread of infection.
Hope can come in many forms and be found in many places. Here at home, we discovered other stories of beating the odds: a nursing program that brings abused or neglected dogs together with at-risk kids for the benefit of both; a visionary city planner who believes – and has proven – that we can find alternatives to the negative aspects of urban sprawl; a young man who, upon discovering that he had Asperger Syndrome, decided to turn that social handicap into a strength to help fellow “Aspies” overcome fear and anxieties; and an Iraqi woman who immigrated to this country more than 30 years ago and today helps others make that same trans-Atlantic transition.
So here’s to spring and all the hopeful ideas that go with it.