2019
December
06
Friday

Today’s stories include questions of self-determination in Iraq, efforts to reclaim the political narrative from Russian trolls, profiles of four young people carving out solutions to a global problem, a test – and triumph – of marital fidelity, and the wonders of a visitor from another solar system. But first, how a visit to Dayton led to an epiphany.

I’m just back from Dayton, Ohio, and the latest convening of the Dartmouth Conference – a six-decade-long effort by distinguished Americans and Russians to help improve bilateral relations. I always learn something at these dialogues, which I’ve been attending since 2015, but this one may be the most meaningful yet. 

For the first time, the Dartmouth Conference has called on the two governments to take action: Extend the last remaining U.S.-Russian arms control treaty, New START, signed in 2010 and set to expire on Feb. 5, 2021. The agreement limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads each country can deploy.

Extending New START – while also addressing the broader security agenda, including cyber warfare – is a matter of life and death, the retired ambassadors, generals, and others agreed, as they gathered at the Dayton-based Kettering Foundation. 

“The clear threat of an uncontrolled nuclear arms race has reemerged with the collapse in recent years of key elements of the post-Cold War arms control architecture,” the Dartmouth statement warned.

The meaning of our discussions stood out sharply on our final evening in Dayton, when we visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force – the world’s largest military aviation museum. Among its vast collection sits Bockscar, the B-29 bomber that dropped a Fat Man nuclear bomb over Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945.

“I had an epiphany,” says Peter Zwack, a retired Army brigadier general. “We had just been talking about New START and the horrors of nuclear war, and this sobering exhibit brought it full circle.”

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1. Iraq protesters to government: Listen to us (not to Iran)

For democracy to work, people need to feel their concerns are heard. When that doesn’t happen – or protest is met with violence – sharper lines can be drawn, making compromise and a path forward much more difficult.

Linda
Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The Christian Science Monitor
Two Iraqi antigovernment protesters check their phones on Dec. 6. Behind them, street graffiti depicts Iraqis' fight against corruption, and portrays American and Iranian influence on the country as tooth decay. Protesters have stepped up their demands for wholesale political change after a brutal crackdown that has left more than 400 Iraqis dead since Oct. 1.

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Like hundreds of thousands of protesting Iraqis, disenfranchised by corruption that has failed to convert vast oil wealth into wider prosperity, Rasoul Adel knows what he wants, even if he can’t articulate how to get there.

The recent resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was a first step, he and others say, in meeting demands for broad reforms and less influence from Iran. “The citizens will make the decision who will be prime minister and who will be in the cabinet,” asserts Mr. Adel, who has been wounded three times amid violent antigovernment protests in Baghdad.

On Jumhuriya Bridge, protesters have fortified barricades; young men carry clubs and walkie-talkie radios. Backing them is a system of food and water delivery, and makeshift clinics. But the political class appears to be aimed at preserving control. One official notes the dearth of leadership offering a hopeful vision for the future.

“Most likely, this revolution will fail. What it will lead to is a hastening of the next set of demonstrations. It hopefully will lead to … us upping our discourse. So the glass is still half full; it’s not half empty just yet.”

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Iraq protesters to government: Listen to us (not to Iran)

Rasoul Adel has been wounded three times at the front lines of Iraq’s increasingly violent antigovernment protests. But that has made him only more determined to see the country’s political elite uprooted, wholesale.

Canisters of military-grade tear gas – heavier than those normally used for crowd control, and shot directly into crowds – twice smashed into his leg, breaking his right shin. A percussion grenade exploded on his back.

But like hundreds of thousands of protesting fellow Iraqis, disenfranchised by a corrupt and sectarian political system that has failed to convert Iraq’s vast oil wealth into wider prosperity and jobs, Mr. Adel knows what he wants, even if he can’t articulate the next steps to get there.

The resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, on Nov. 29, was only a first step, he and other Iraqis say, in meeting their demands for top-to-bottom reforms of Iraq’s political structure, and for less influence by neighboring Iran in Iraqi politics.

“The citizens will make the decision who will be prime minister and who will be in the cabinet,” asserts Mr. Adel, as he stands on crutches, his right leg in a cast, among a throng of protesters on the bank of the Tigris River. “We are the biggest bloc to choose the government. Our motivation has increased because we won the first round, but we need support.”

Where that support will come from is unclear, especially given the lack of both leadership among the protesters and a political rising star with a vision that appeals to an increasingly vocal and restive population – which this time is noisiest in nine mostly Shiite provinces and Baghdad, places that would normally back the Shiite-dominated government. But amid a lack of political action and a harsh government crackdown, the stakes are rising sharply, as deepening divisions set off a cycle of violence between competing camps. 

“When the protests first started, the demands were reasonable: people wanted jobs, services, and to fight corruption,” says Sajad Jiyad, head of the Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies, a think tank in Baghdad.

“The problem is the government’s response was very violent, and people’s demands became maximalist: change the whole system, get rid of everybody,” says Mr. Jiyad, adding that a lighter touch might help reverse that escalation and yield “more realistic” demands. 

“But right now, there are no confidence-building measures being done by the government to get anyone to do anything different,” says Mr. Jiyad. “It’s just continued bloodshed and intimidation, so [protesters] feel like, ‘Why should I back down from those demands?’”

Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The Christian Science Monitor
An Iraqi antigovernment protester who gives the name “Dr. Marwan” stands on Dec. 6 on the edge of Jumhuriya Bridge and Tahrir Square in Baghdad, wearing a military tactical vest with medical bandages inserted where bullet magazines would normally be.

Iraq’s top cleric speaks out

In his Friday sermon today, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani – Iraq’s highest Shiite religious authority – called on the new premier to be named within a constitutional deadline of 15 days, and “without any foreign interference.”

Mr. Abdul-Mahdi was widely seen to owe his post to a deal brokered last year by Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Qods Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. General Soleimani has been in Baghdad again this week, “back to strike the next deal,” according to one Iraqi official who asked not to be named.

Iraqi officials say General Soleimani was instrumental in organizing the heavy-handed crackdown against the Iraqi demonstrators. That included the sudden use of snipers against the crowds in early October by Iran-backed Shiite militias, which helped raise the death toll toward 450, an unprecedented figure since the American military toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. General Soleimani and other Iranian officials also sought to prevent Mr. Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation.

But despite the protesters’ success in foiling that effort, they are bracing for the long haul. 

“I won’t leave the square until we expel the corrupters from the Green Zone,” says Mr. Adel, whose determination is widely echoed on these streets. “They should go to court like Saddam Hussein.”

High above him on Jumhuriya Bridge, which leads from the epicenter of the protests at Tahrir Square to the Green Zone, protesters have fortified barricades, while young men carry sticks, clubs, and walkie-talkie tactical radios, and sometimes wear masks as they sleep behind concrete pilings that form the front. Security officials have built their own fortified defensive line just a few dozen yards away.

Backing the demonstrators all around Tahrir Square is a system of food and water delivery, makeshift clinics, shrines to the “martyrs” killed already in this fight, and often a carnival atmosphere where Iraqis take selfies in front of revolutionary graffiti art. Protesters have turned a tall abandoned building, damaged in previous wars and known as the “Turkish Restaurant,” into an unofficial headquarters. 

The makeshift clinic closest to this front line, on the ramparts of the bridge, is one of 40 or 50 treating thousands of injured protesters.

“We are part of the people, we are part of this revolution,” says a thickly bearded medical assistant in a doctor’s white coat, who gave the name Abu Skandar.

“People need all the cabinet to be expelled. People here want a government for the people, not the parties,” says Abu Skandar.

“When you see all the classes of the people here, you have more motivation. For 16 years our rights have been taken, and we need to take them back,” he says. “Of course, there is no retreat unless there is a victory.” 

Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The Christian Science Monitor
Iraqi protesters walk beneath an Iraqi flag hanging from Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Dec. 6. The street graffiti depicts protesters' two-month battle against a corrupt and sectarian political system.

But how do you define victory?

Any reshuffling of old faces to form the new government will be akin to “putting lipstick on a pig,” says independent Iraqi analyst Hamzeh Hadad.

“There are power centers now, patronage networks, and you just can’t expect these power centers to give up,” says Mr. Hadad. “My hope from these protests is not an overhaul, because it’s never going to happen like that. My hope is that we build a movement, that leadership comes out that can present me an alternative [and] proper civil society.”

A harder view prevails on the streets, says a psychology graduate who gave his name as Dr. Marwan. He is wearing a sand-colored tactical military vest in which the pockets for clips of bullets and grenades have been filled instead with medical bandages.

“We are here for two months because the government is corrupt and killing people, and stole the people’s money,” says Dr. Marwan. “People will stay here until there is a new government with clean hands.”

But Iraq’s long-entrenched political class appears to be searching for solutions that will preserve its control. That is despite a socioeconomic malaise that made “Iraqi people without hope” pour into the streets in anger, says the government official.

“What Iraq is missing is true national leadership that provides Iraqis with a vision for the future, which then leads us to having hope,” says the official.

“You’ll ask 10 people what they want, and they’ll give you 10 different answers, and most of them will give a slogan, like ‘We want a nation.’ What does that mean?” says the official.

“There is no blank page. It’s vested interests. It’s pieces of the cake,” he says.

Still, he notes, Iraq’s democracy is in its earliest stages.

“After 7,000 years of history, we’ve been only democratic for 14,” says the official. “We haven’t given it a long enough time to work. And the system we do have is imperfect, so what we need to do is reform it, enhance it.

“Traditionally, revolutions are a failure,” he continues. “Most likely, this revolution will fail. What it will lead to is a hastening of the next set of demonstrations. It hopefully will lead to civil society organizations, and us upping our discourse ... so the glass is still half full; it’s not half empty just yet.”

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A deeper look

2. After Russian trolls target black Americans, one city fights back

Black activists point to a long history of people interfering with African Americans’ right to vote. What was different in 2016 was that the meddling came from overseas. Here’s what one city is doing after being targeted by a Russian misinformation campaign.

Linda

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About two-thirds of Russian activity on social media seeking to influence the 2016 election was aimed at black Americans, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report. And at least one of the Moscow-linked trolls was focusing on Charlotte, North Carolina.

It is impossible to gauge the campaign’s precise impact. But in 2016, African American voter turnout was 7% lower than in 2012, the largest such drop on record. It was even steeper in North Carolina. 

In Charlotte, more than a few people were duped by fake Russian social media accounts as riots rocked the city in the wake of a 2016 police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. But when that controversy died down, many residents not only began to realize the depth of the fakery, but grew determined to overcome its pernicious effects on the city’s fabric. Since then, civic engagement in Charlotte is up, activists say, and the city has changed for the better.

In spite of Russian interference, “the protests brought a lot of people together like true Americans,” says local activist Theodore Smith. “In the end, people were able to address their grievances and change Charlotte.”

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1. After Russian trolls target black Americans, one city fights back

As he marched in protest through Charlotte shortly before the 2016 presidential election, Theodore Smith could not shake a strange suspicion that a foreign force was stalking his city.

What had begun as a heartfelt popular response to the police shooting of a local black man was taking on an unfamiliar hateful edge that felt inauthentic. On the internet, he saw protest campaigns that seemed to be no more than mash-ups of images designed simply to stir instinctive emotions.

“I wasn’t the only one thinking, ‘This doesn’t seem like our community,’” says Mr. Smith, a dreadlocked warehouse worker who recalls seeing pages such as “Black Matters US” popping up on his phone screen. “It felt purposefully manipulated.”

Turns out, he was right.

About two-thirds of Russian activity on Facebook and other social media platforms seeking to influence the 2016 election was aimed at black Americans, according to a new Senate Intelligence Committee report. And at least one of the Moscow-linked trolls was focusing on Charlotte.

The internet campaign appeared designed to convince African Americans, who traditionally favor Democrat candidates, that it was not worth voting – at least not for Hillary Clinton. It was built on false messages such as “HILLARY RECEIVED $20,000 DONATION FROM KKK FOR HER CAMPAIGN.”

It is impossible to gauge the campaign’s precise impact. But in 2016, African American voter turnout was 7% lower than in 2012, the largest such drop on record. It was even steeper in North Carolina, one of the six swing states in which President Donald Trump eked out narrow victories en route to winning the Electoral College.  

“This is a national security issue that goes straight to our elections,” says Mr. Smith. “If you can infiltrate another country and cause people to take action, or not take action, you can cause civil unrest and collapse it from the inside out.”

In Charlotte, more than a few people were duped by fake Russian social media accounts as riots rocked the city in the wake of the police shooting. But when that controversy died down, many Charlotte residents not only began to realize the depth of the fakery, but grew determined to overcome its pernicious effects on the city’s fabric. Since then, civic engagement in Charlotte is up, activists say, and the city has changed for the better.

“At the direction of the Kremlin”

A report released in October by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee outlines how the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a troll farm in St. Petersburg working “at the direction of the Kremlin,” showed “an overwhelming operational emphasis on race” in its posts on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

The intended goal, it appears, was to demoralize and divide African American voters and to amplify racial tensions in U.S. society.

Drawing on research by data science firm New Knowledge, the committee found that half of the IRA’s most popular Instagram accounts targeted African American issues and users; the most popular, @Blackstagram, attracted 300,000 followers. The IRA’s Facebook advertisements sought to stir emotions after police shootings of black victims, while Facebook pages such as “Blacktivist” garnered millions of “likes,” shares, and comments.

On IRA-created YouTube channels, from “Black Matters US” to “Don’t Shoot,” 96% of the content focused on race and police brutality. 

And these social media accounts were not just fringe internet dross; some of them attracted a lot of attention.

In Seattle, a team at the University of Washington had long studied Twitter conversations using the Black Lives Matter hashtag. When the social media giant last year released an archive of tweets it had identified as coming from the IRA, online disinformation researcher Kate Starbird described how the team discovered that those Russian accounts were at the heart of conversations in both left-leaning and right-leaning circles.

Courtesy of Leo Stuart of the University of Washington's Information School

One of the influential accounts posing as an African American activist supporting #BlackLivesMatter was @Crystal1Johnson, who attracted more than 56,000 followers and 5.6 million likes over two years. When the protests erupted in Charlotte in September 2016 after a policeman killed Keith Lamont Scott, tweets from accounts now known to be linked to the IRA shot up, according to the Information Operations Archive, a searchable database on foreign information warfare.

One of the most prolific users? @Crystal1Johnson.

“9 y.o. Zianna Oliphant delivered an emotional testimony to the #Charlotte city council. I’m in tears ...,” “Crystal” tweeted a week after the protests. Her profile located her in Richmond, Virginia, but she was neither in Richmond nor in tears. She was a figment of a Russian troll’s imagination.

Nor did the Russians call off their campaign after the U.S. presidential election. In fact, the Senate Committee report says, IRA-created posts appeared on the internet even more frequently after the poll. And last month Facebook took down a network of 50 Russia-linked Instagram accounts that it said were engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

For some black activists, this is not their overriding concern. Donna Davis, for example, who organized Black Lives Matter protests in Tampa, Florida, downplays the importance of Russian social media messaging compared with the impact of down-home discrimination.

“Most African Americans would concern themselves with people here stateside who are conspiring to oppress and incarcerate and marginalize them,” says Ms. Davis.

“Russian interference may not be a priority when the people next door are calling the police on you for barbecuing,” she adds. “The bigger fish to fry are on the next block, not across the ocean.”

Soviet legacy

This is not the first time that Moscow has paid close attention to black Americans, whose cause the Soviet Union espoused as far back as the 1920s. Soviet children’s magazines would highlight stories about American racism, and civil rights leaders such as Langston Hughes were invited to visit the Soviet Union, says Meredith Roman, author of “Opposing Jim Crow: African Americans and the Soviet Indictment of U.S. Racism, 1928-1937.”

While some Soviet officials may have been genuinely committed to anti-racism, she says, the USSR’s motive was largely propagandistic, “to expose just how false [Americans’] claims of freedom and democracy are. Because they’re trying to build a better future, a socialist future.”

Vocal support from America’s communist archrival did little to help civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr. make their case to the American people. It was easy to brand some of their ideals, particularly those concerning broader human rights beyond the civil rights struggle, as communist-inspired.

The FBI, under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, devoted considerable time and resources to studying alleged links between King and the Communist Party USA, which was loyal to Moscow. Seeking to portray him as being under communist influence, the bureau infiltrated its agents into the civil rights movement; King was also subjected to an FBI counterintelligence program to discredit and disrupt his work.

Professor Roman, a professor of history at The College at Brockport, State University of New York, suspects that the Kremlin has sought to learn from the FBI’s example.

“They’re not only drawing on this long history of studying American racism … for much more duplicitous and unsavory purposes, but they’re also students of the ways in which the FBI during the Cold War was also using counterintelligence measures against African American communities to sow resentment, division, and even violence,” she says.

Indeed, the Russian disinformation campaign has sown distrust so that even legitimate activists have found their real identity – and motives – being questioned.

“Black Twitter is very much aware of this manipulation that has happened,” says Bret Schafer, a digital disinformation expert at the German Marshall Fund. “Awareness of the problem is a good thing but it has a negative side effect. We don’t know what accounts now are fake or pretending to be Black Lives Matter. It has led to some name-calling and accusations.”

It led to real-life confusion too on the streets of Charlotte where, in Theodore Smith’s words, “the mental can become the physical” as false social messaging seeps into the real world and sparks real events.

Patrik Jonsson/The Christian Science Monitor
Greg Jackson, a rapper and chef, became an activist and community advocate in the wake of the 2016 Charlotte protests, some of which became violent. But changing Charlotte took rising above a Russian disinformation campaign that aimed to demoralize black voters.

“I can remember it to this day”

When Keith Lamont Scott was killed in 2016, it was two years after Black Lives Matter grew into a national movement after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, by a police officer, and four years after was it was created following Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012 at the hands of a vigilante.

Shortly before Mr. Scott’s death, Greg Jackson, a Brooklyn-born chef and rapper living in Charlotte, released a new single, “Bang Bang.” The song addressed police shootings, but also the conditions that breed violence. He saw it as a new expression of his budding activism.

Angered by the shooting, Mr. Jackson marched to the police department with thousands of other protesters demanding to know the truth about how Scott had died. He fell into conversation with a police lieutenant and secured the officer’s agreement to meet formally with activists to discuss the situation.

To seal the deal, he shook the lieutenant’s hand. And that’s when he first realized that something was off, that the crowd’s mood was not just angry, but ugly. Mr. Jackson was booed. “I can remember it to this day, being called a sell-out,” he says.

At the time, he had no idea that Russian internet trolls might be trying to manipulate the mood in Charlotte. Yet as protests continued for four days, shutting down parts of the city, Mr. Jackson did begin to wonder about the tweets, videos, and social media messages inundating his mobile phone.

“The message was so negative. They weren’t talking about rightful anger, but hate,” he recalls.

“It was easy to manipulate everyone by applying pressure … and antagonism, injecting different narratives and getting real action from it,” says Mr. Jackson.

“So much of the messaging wanted to stop forward progress, overpower it,” he adds. “It is an agenda to cause separation. It’s the perfect way to separate people. If you can get one crew to hate the other crew, then chaos happens.”

Jennifer Roberts, the progressive white mayor of Charlotte in 2016, was confounded too.

Though she had joined black activists in calling for more police transparency, she became a symbol of a corrupt system in the eyes of many black protesters. After she sided with their demands she was shocked that protesters picketed her front yard.

The Russian social media campaign “injected negativity made of lies,” Ms. Roberts says. “It reinforced a single idea: When all politics is corrupt, why vote? You can’t change the system anyway.”

Patrik Jonsson/The Christian Science Monitor
As mayor of Charlotte when protests erupted weeks before the 2016 election, Jennifer Roberts had early suspicions that “outsiders” were stoking racial tensions by injecting false narratives. A Senate intelligence report later confirmed that a Russian troll farm played a role in guiding the shape and tenor of the protests.

During the next election

That democracy-deadening message did not get through in Charlotte, however. At mayoral elections in 2017, voter turnout leaped by 50% from 2015; Ms. Roberts lost her post to Vi Lyles, the city’s first female African American mayor.

City councilors are more attuned to popular sentiment: Braxton Winston, a protest leader, won a seat on the council in 2017, and Julie Eiselt, who was head of the city’s public safety committee when Scott was killed, told a local radio station that the uprising had “changed the way I try to talk ... and [caused me] to see people in a different light.”

A number of public initiatives have sprung up since the 2016 protests to heal the city’s wounds.

The city council has funded a new network of community workers in local neighborhoods to help reduce crime. In a referendum last year, voters overwhelmingly approved a $50 million bond issue to finance tax credits for people buying older houses, so as to help keep rents down. Charlotte banks stepped up with $20 million in seed money to help home buyers with down payments, and a property developer set aside five acres of a large new project for affordable housing.

Mr. Smith is still engaged in local activism; Mr. Jackson quit his job to launch a nonprofit called Heal Charlotte. The group aims to strengthen trust and communication between the police and the black community by training officers how to calm, rather than inflame, tensions on the street after violent incidents.

In spite of Russian interference, “the protests brought a lot of people together like true Americans,” says Mr. Smith. “In the end, people were able to address their grievances and change Charlotte.”

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3. Not just Greta: Young people worldwide take charge on climate

Youth anger takes center stage during school walkouts for climate strikes like today’s. But around the world, young activists are also finding ways to become part of the solution.

Linda
Christine Olsson/TT News Agency/Reuters
Young people rally in the Rinkeby neighborhood of Stockholm, Dec. 6, 2019. The international "Fridays for Future" demonstrations are inspired by Greta Thunberg's August 2018 school strikes to urge better climate policies and follow-through.

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Grim scientific reports say the planet is headed for rising temperatures, rising seas, rising drought. But the young people who will inherit the Earth are taking action. They are motivated by hope – hope in humanity to have the intelligence and determination to address this era’s existential threat, and hope that any one individual’s involvement is a key factor in moving the whole world forward.

Four young activists living very different realities – in Japan, Senegal, India, and Haiti – are all making climate action a central purpose in their lives.

“We young people have had enough of the excuses,” says Vivianne Roc, whose group works with young women in Haiti. She says she is keenly aware that a small organization on a small island nation can’t do much to solve or even mitigate climate change. “Haiti didn’t cause climate change, it’s up to them” – world leaders, she says – “to take the big steps that are necessary.”

“But seeing young people’s frustrations transformed into involvement and action gives me hope. It allows me,” she adds, “to put on a little smile when it may not feel like there’s a lot to smile about.”

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Not just Greta: Young people worldwide take charge on climate

When the teenage Danish climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived by solar-powered boat in New York last September to speak before the United Nations General Assembly, she garnered so much attention that the world might have thought her youthful climate activism must be something unusual.

Actually it’s not, and not by a long shot.

All over the world, in big cities and small villages, in developed and still-developing countries, in global powers and tiny island nations, young people are mobilizing and marching, as seen in Friday’s global climate strike. Beyond that, young people are starting their own organizations and innovating greener everyday-living practices, all in the name of addressing climate change.

Motivated by increasingly grim scientific reports on where the planet is headed – rising temperatures, rising seas, rising drought – and by the reality that they will be inheriting the Earth, young people are taking action.

But to speak with just about any of these young activists is to realize that they are also motivated by hope – hope in humanity to have the intelligence and determination to address this era’s existential threat, and hope that their own role, that any individual’s involvement, is a key factor in moving the whole world forward.

As Vivianne Roc, a health and environmental education activist in Haiti says, “We young people have had enough of the excuses. But seeing young people’s frustrations transformed into involvement and action gives me hope. It allows me,” she adds, “to put on a little smile when it may not feel like there’s a lot to smile about.”

Here are four young climate activists living very different realities around the world – in Japan, Senegal, India, and Haiti – but all making climate action a central purpose in their lives.

Howard LaFranchi/The Christian Science Monitor
Mayumi Sato, founder of Landscape Narratives, at the United Nations in New York. She coordinates photography projects in Brazil, Guam, Mexico, and Southeast Asia, "encouraging climate action by transcending language through imagery,” she says.

Mayumi Sato got the idea of using images to change thinking and build empathy around climate change from talking with her grandmother in Japan.

For a while, it seemed as if all climate conversations with her grandmother devolved into arguments, Ms. Sato says. “But then I realized that when I showed her pictures, things changed,” she says. “If you can attribute a face or an image to the community you’re talking about, it personalizes the problems, the issues they are facing.”

“With my grandmother,” she adds, “I realized the images served as an entry point to a conversation.”

That realization led Ms. Sato to found Landscape Narratives, a global photography project that helps communities affected by climate change to tell their story through images. She now has “teams” in Brazil and Guam, is assisting a friend in Mexico focused on the climate activism of an LGBTQ community, and has launched projects based on her own travels throughout Southeast Asia. Each project focuses on “encouraging climate action by transcending language through imagery,” she says.

In northern Thailand, Ms. Sato photographed the farmers and children whose livelihoods and health are undermined by the uncontrolled burning of plastics. In Cambodia, she took portraits of women taking climate action into their own hands.

Ms. Sato, who did her university studies at McGill University in Montreal and speaks English fluently, says a key motivating desire for her was to create a way of communicating the human impact of climate change without the limitation of language.

“I know English is the universal language, ... but photography is a kind of universal language, too,” she says. “So my goal is to use imagery that truly everyone can relate to, and to help spread the understanding that a changing climate isn’t abstract, it’s already affecting people and places around the world.”

Howard LaFranchi/The Christian Science Monitor
Ndéye Marie Aïda Ndiéguène used about 2,000 old tires, 3,000 liter bottles, and 1,000 plastic sacks in her award-winning design of a storehouse to mitigate farmers' crop losses in Senegal. She aims to create jobs for young people, and take concrete steps to solve local problems.

Ndéye Marie Aïda Ndiéguène thinks youth-dominated climate demonstrations are great.

But the young civil engineer, entrepreneur, and budding novelist from Dakar, Senegal, says it’s important for young people not just to demonstrate but to do something. By that she means pitch in to develop the solutions, both large and small, to the global climate challenge.

It was that conviction that led Ms. Ndiéguène to develop a new model of barn or storehouse that addresses two critical problems at once: It uses materials like old tires, and plastic sacks and bottles, that traditionally are burned or find their way into landfills or waterways and the sea; and it reduces the high rates of crop loss that require Senegalese small farmers to produce more and more, just to squeak by.

“Originally our motivation was primarily to address the farmers’ very high crop loss, but we quickly realized that we could also play a part in addressing climate change by developing a new crop storage space,” says Ms. Ndiéguène, who is proud to call herself the CEO of Eco-Builders MS (for “Made in Senegal.”)

The prototype storehouse, which has won Eco-Builders a number of innovation prizes, used about 2,000 old tires, 3,000 liter bottles, and 1,000 large plastic sacks.

Noting that Eco-Builders’ aim is to create jobs for local young people to both gather the building materials and then carry out the construction, Ms. Ndiéguène returns to her theme of taking concrete steps to solve local problems.

“I think what Greta [Thunberg] is doing is so important, but I also think it’s just the first step in the youth climate movement,” she says. “I want to use my skills as an entrepreneur because to me, while it’s important to talk about the problems, it’s also important to come up with the solutions.”

Courtesy of Vishnu PR Purusothaman.
Vishnu P.R. Purushothaman (center) and his wife, Athira G, receive a certificate from a district administrator in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala state, India, after their "green wedding" highlighted their climate change work. Mr. Purushothaman says that his young volunteers “want to do real things that have real impact."

When Vishnu P.R. Purushothaman got married last summer, the principles of sustainable living were so important to him that he and his wife-to-be agreed to have a green wedding.

The couple’s clever use of local materials like bamboo and banana in the place of plastics earned them a “green couple” designation from the district administrator. And it led to a new revenue source for the climate action nonprofit Mr. Purushothaman runs in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

The nonprofit C5 – it stands for Change Can Change Climate Change – aims to raise awareness about steps everyone can take to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Now it also helps couples plan their own green weddings.

Mr. Purushothaman says the small army of 10,000 volunteers – virtually all of whom are younger than his 29 years – is proof that young people are serious about addressing climate change.

“Kids around the world are really scared about their future, and that is driving them to all these marches, but for many of them that’s not enough,” he says. “They want to do real things that have real impact, and so at C5 we are trying to exploit that drive to do real things.”

One focus of C5 is waste management. Young people go door to door explaining how households can do their part to reduce carbon emissions and help create a sustainable environment.

Mr. Purushothaman says C5 has the advantage of being in Kerala state, which boasts India’s highest literacy rate and a long tradition of social activism.

“People in Kerala are generally aware that things have to change now if we don’t want the very worst to happen concerning climate change,” he says. “The kids who go out into the communities generally find this level of awareness, and that gives us all hope that people can change, and so what we’re doing serves a purpose.”

Howard LaFranchi/The Christian Science Monitor
Vivianne Roc is founder of an organization called Plurielles, which seeks to integrate climate action into efforts to address public health issues and other challenges in Haiti, mainly through working with young women.

Haiti has long sat near the very bottom of international rankings of countries by prosperity, human development, and good governance. And while that discouraging picture may deflate many Haitians, for Vivianne Roc it’s a motivating factor.

“In Haiti we face an ensemble of daunting problems, and now with climate change added to the mix,” says the founder and president of Plurielles, an organization that seeks to integrate climate action into efforts to address public health issues and other challenges, mainly through working with young women.

“I want my future and that of other young people to be much better, and indeed better for a wider number of people,” says Ms. Roc. “So that’s why we are making climate action an integral part of our work, because climate change has the potential to set back any progress we make in health or living conditions.”

Plurielles aims to break what Ms. Roc calls “very negative syndromes” in Haiti through educating young women and promoting healthier life practices. As examples of those “negative syndromes” she cites high teen pregnancy and Haiti’s disastrous deforestation – two challenges she says may not seem related but which both pose dire consequences for the prospects of Haiti’s youth.

Ms. Roc says she is keenly aware that a small organization on a small island nation in the Caribbean can’t do much to solve or even mitigate climate change. “Haiti didn’t cause climate change, it’s up to them” – world leaders, she says – “to take the big steps that are necessary.”

But she says the action of individuals like the young women she works with in Plurielles is nevertheless crucial, because it allows people to feel a part of something bigger, something global.

“If people feel they matter, that gives them hope,” she says. “And we’re not going to do the things we must to solve our problems if we don’t have hope.” 

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The Ten

How people use the Commandments in daily life

4. Is chastity old-fashioned? An NFL veteran’s take on Seventh Commandment.

Vai Sikahema, a TV anchor and former NFL player, has seen benefits to observing chastity and fidelity. Part 8 in a series looking at the Ten Commandments through modern lives.

Linda
Sabina Louise Pierce/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Vai Sikahema is a former NFL player who is now an anchor at NBC10 in Philadelphia. Faith has been an important part of his life.

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Vai Sikahema is a familiar face in Philadelphia. He became a football hero after his 1992 touchdown punt return for the Eagles. These days, he’s an anchor for the morning news at Philly’s NBC affiliate, NBC10.

But within his church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – he’s known for his leadership. He currently presides over all spiritual and temporal aspects of his growing faith community in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and much of the surrounding region.

Both in his own life and in that faith community, the Seventh Commandment – “Thou shalt not commit adultery” – figures prominently. Mr. Sikahema discussed this commandment with the Monitor as part of our series examining how ancient religious principles continue to matter in today’s world.

Mr. Sikahema says he’s followed the commandment in his own life – refraining from temptation while in the NFL, remaining a virgin until his wedding day, and staying faithful to his wife. They’ve been married for 35 years.

He sees the commandment as a blessing – for example, he says, by bringing security to his family. “I think God gives us these Commandments so we could be happy,” he says.

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Is chastity old-fashioned? An NFL veteran’s take on Seventh Commandment.

TV anchor Vai Sikahema, a gracious man, revels in his NFL locker room days – the banter, the teasing, the freewheeling maleness of it all. And why shouldn’t he? Mr. Sikahema’s 1992 touchdown punt return for the Eagles against the loathed rival New York Giants – polished off by his celebratory, Rocky-like punching of the opponents’ goal post – earned him legendary status in this city, which lives for its sports moments.

His teammates, though, also knew him as the guy who’d decline the strip club outings, and the attentions of pretty, hovering girls. “When you play professional sports, it has a tendency to force you off the fence” in terms of morality, he says. “I know I was unique in an NFL locker room: I was a virgin until my wedding day, and I was further unique in that I remained faithful to my wife through my football career and in my life.”

His commitment to fidelity continues today, despite being immersed, for the past 25 years, in a television news world as replete as the NFL with the “combustible elements” of celebrity, money, and opportunity. “The odd thing is, I never felt holier-than-thou,” even with his teammates, many of whom held far different values. “They’d keep me from getting hurt on Sundays,” he says.

The doctrine of the church in which he was raised – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – is simple, he says: “You don’t have sex until marriage, and in marriage you practice fidelity.” He has found this doctrine to be a great blessing in his life.

Mr. Sikahema spoke with the Monitor about the Seventh Commandment – Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14) – as part of our Ten Commandments series, which examines how ancient religious principles continue to matter in today’s world. “I think God gives us these Commandments so we could be happy,” he says.

Tannen Maury/AP/File
Philadelphia Eagles player Vai Sikahema (No. 22), along with teammate Keith Byars (No. 41), begins a celebration during the final winning moments of the NFC wild-card game on Jan. 3, 1993, in New Orleans.

Mr. Sikahema, originally from the South Pacific island nation of Tonga, immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was 7. His mother taught him not just to respect women’s sexuality, but to honor them, including in simple ways like opening a car door for them or carrying their packages. At first, Mr. Sikahema kept his virginity out of respect for his mother. With time, he recalls, “I grew into the doctrine and I understood, as I got older, its purpose.”

His church believes that sexuality has particular meaning in the eyes of God – that God shares the power of procreation with humans, and that this precludes trifling with aspects of life connected with that power. “When we violate the commandment we stand in contempt, and frankly, so many of the world’s ills result,” he says, noting especially the challenges that can arise when children grow up without fathers: “When people stray from their vows, it creates problems raising children.”

Security for the family

Today, the middle-aged father of four experiences benefits of the commandment that he did not foresee in his NFL days. “Once I had kids, and three of the four were sons, it occurred to me that among the blessings of honoring that commandment was that my children would grow up with the security that can only come from knowing that their father loves their mother in the most sacred way,” he says. This stood in contrast to the family chaos they often encountered in football and in society more widely. “I did not anticipate how powerful that is to children,” he says.

He likened his role to that of a teacher. “There is power, in whatever subject you teach, when you have the credibility and the conviction that comes from doing exactly what you teach,” he says. He saw it as his duty to teach chastity not just for his children’s physical well-being, but because of its emotional and spiritual power, which he believes results in the respect of self and others.

Sabina Louise Pierce/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Vai Sikahema and Rosemary Connors, co-anchors at NBC10 in Philadelphia, prepare to go on-air. They are good friends and tend to view life through a spiritual lens.

Today, three of his children are married, with six children among them. “One of the great, great blessings that have come from living the commandment,” he says, “is seeing our children in good, happy marriages.” He adds that if he had the choice to leave his kids either a billion-dollar inheritance or the legacy of faithfulness, there would be no contest. “Ultimately [my example] is of greater value to them,” he says.

“I feel like every day I get to work with him is like a gift,” says Rosemary Connors, a good friend of Mr. Sikahema who is a co-anchor, along with him, of the morning news at Philadelphia’s NBC affiliate, NBC10. Marriage is a frequent topic of conversation for the two – she a relative neophyte married only four years, he a generation older, with a perspective and sense of humor that helps her see past the bumps. Both people of faith, they view life and marriage through a spiritual lens, and Ms. Connors – admiring her co-worker’s manner of speaking of his spouse with respect and gratitude – takes that as a lesson. “I internalize that in my own relationship,” she says.

Married for 35 years

Mr. Sikahema and his wife, Keala, met while they were students at Brigham Young University, and they’ve been married for 35 years. “We both enjoy the blessings of a happy marriage because we decided from the beginning to not put ourselves in a compromising situation,” says Ms. Sikahema, who adds that her husband’s career has provided him many more opportunities than she has had to put the promise to the test. “He overcompensates and goes out of his way to do things out of the ordinary” to avoid even the appearance of infidelity. She recalls a road trip when he called for a cab rather than remain in a situation that had the feel of a double date.

“We try to remember to tell each other every morning that we will not take each other for granted,” she says.

While Mr. Sikahema’s public persona is that of Philly football hero and TV anchor, he’s known within his church for his leadership, he says, as he takes in the city from the sleek 12th-floor news headquarters at the year-old Comcast Technology Center. He currently presides over all spiritual and temporal aspects of his growing faith community in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and much of the surrounding region.

The Seventh Commandment figures prominently in that community’s life, but transgressions occur, he concedes. “Even the best people make mistakes,” he says. When that happens, the church offers a process for forgiveness of adultery, in recognition of the belief that Jesus gave his life in atonement for sins, including these kinds of sins. “What was once scarlet can be made as white as snow,” he says, referring to Scripture (Isaiah 1:18).

If a spouse has been unfaithful, the church expects both partners to consult with their bishop with the aim of repairing the marriage, a process that in some cases can take years. Mr. Sikahema is formerly a bishop on the receiving end of such requests.

“By and large, people give up on their marriages too soon,” he believes.

Travel companions

The Sikahemas, now empty nesters, travel together nearly every weekend throughout the Northeast for church business, driving if the destination is less than five hours away, flying if longer. “We just enjoy being together,” Mr. Sikahema says.

They pray on their knees together in the morning – at 3:30 a.m. on days when he needs to leave for the station – and again at night. They pray about the myriad hopes and needs of their family – now 15 strong – their church, and their world.

“I like old-fashioned,” says the newsman, who is not afraid to bring his Sunday school game to a hookup culture. Though other believers – be they Christian, Jewish, or Muslim – share the values of the Seventh Commandment, people need not be religious to benefit from the commandment’s take on matters of the heart, he says. “These values are more and more not in the mainstream, but I think reasonable people want this. Old-fashioned is good.”

Part 1: The Commandments as a moral source code in modern life

Part 2: How does the First Commandment fit in today?

Part 3: ‘I have to have humility’: How Second Commandment helped man find freedom

Part 4: One woman embraces Third Commandment in feeding 1,600 at Thanksgiving

Part 5: ‘Remember the sabbath’: How one family lives the Fourth Commandment

Part 6:Growing up is hard’: How Fifth Commandment guided a child during divorce

Part 7: Is saying ‘I’d kill for those shoes’ OK? One woman and Sixth Commandment.

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5. Interstellar visitors open new window to the cosmos

Distant reaches of the universe have long been the realm of models and theory. But the arrival of space rocks from afar in our stellar neighborhood sparks a new way of thinking about the cosmos.

Linda
AP/File
Astronomers at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain, are following Comet Borisov closely. The Gran Telescopio Canarias captured some of the first high-resolution images of the comet in September.

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Comet Borisov is hurtling toward our sun, on track for its nearest approach on Dec. 8. But this isn’t an ordinary comet. Borisov hails from another star system. And it’s only the second time scientists have observed such an interstellar visitor. 

The first was a peculiar asteroid dubbed ‘Oumuamua that zoomed through the sky in October 2017. Taken together, these visitors herald a new frontier in astronomy – one where the universe is coming to us, rock by rock, providing clues about our neighbors in the Milky Way. The presence of these interstellar travelers in our solar system also adds a new dimension to our understanding of the cosmos.

These envoys from another solar system present many puzzles: Where do they come from? How many have we missed? Could they carry aliens from the other side of the galaxy? 

“Now that we know they’re there, there’s going to be a much more active search to find them and study them,” says Robert Weryk, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who discovered ‘Oumuamua. “Pretty much every candidate we get now, it’s like, oh, maybe this could be the next one.”

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Interstellar visitors open new window to the cosmos

All eyes are on Comet Borisov. But this isn’t just any comet.

The cosmic block of ice, rock, and gas hurtling toward our sun came from another solar system. It’s only the second of its kind ever spotted. 

The first interstellar visitor, a peculiar object dubbed ‘Oumuamua, flashed through the night sky in October 2017. Scientists didn’t expect to see another until after 2022. But Borisov is here now, burning bright in a cloud of dust and cyanogen gas that makes it closely resemble our solar system’s comets. 

Together, these visitors herald a new frontier in astronomy – one where the universe is coming to us, rock by rock, providing clues about our neighbors in the Milky Way. The presence of these interstellar travelers in our solar system also adds a new dimension to our understanding of the cosmos. 

NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA)/AP
The comet Borisov, seen by the Hubble Space Telescope Oct. 12, 2019. It’s the second known interstellar visitor to swoop through our backyard. An amateur astronomer from Crimea, Gennady Borisov, discovered the comet in August, two years after the first alien guest, a cigar-shaped rock, popped up.

“It shows right away that these objects are probably a lot more common than people had thought they were,” says Robert Weryk, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who discovered ‘Oumuamua. “And now that we know they’re there, there’s going to be a much more active search to find them and study them.”

What happened when we stopped looking

These interstellar visitors are generating a lot of buzz among 21st-century scientists. But if you went back about 400 years, “no one would have batted an eye,” says Sara Schechner, a historian of astronomy at Harvard University. 

Philosophers at the time conceptualized comets and asteroids as objects that hurtled around the galaxy, not necessarily bounded by fixed star systems. But as modern notions of a vast and orderly universe emerged, interstellar traffic fell out of fashion.

In the 20th century, a new barrier for where a comet could go was introduced: the Oort cloud, a theoretical shell of icy objects that surrounds our solar system. A collision within the cloud could send an object flying deeper into the solar system, but it’s much harder to push an object outward, against the sun’s gravity. If the same structure exists around other star systems, scientists surmised, it would be very difficult for a comet to escape a star system, let alone travel the unfathomable distances and survive a trip through our Oort cloud. 

In short, says Dr. Schechner, interstellar comets became so unlikely, we stopped looking.

 

Lindsey McGinnis/The Christian Science Monitor
Sara Schechner, the David P. Wheatland Curator of the collection of historical scientific instruments at Harvard University, in her office, on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.

Scientists have probably seen objects like Borisov or ‘Oumuamua before but dismissed them as observational errors, says Javier Licandro, a planetary scientist at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in the Canary Islands. 

But Borisov was no mistake. 

A new window into the cosmos 

An amateur astronomer in Crimea first spotted Borisov on Aug. 30. Other astronomers around the world quickly began tracking its trajectory, eager to determine if it was a second interstellar visitor. After several days, the International Astronomical Union confirmed that the comet did indeed come from another star system.

While ‘Oumuamua hung around for about a week, Borisov is projected to be observable well into 2020. Its path is projected to take it closest to our sun on Dec. 8, though comets can behave unpredictably in heat as gases inside it burn, creating high-pressure jet streams that can push the comet off course. The sun’s heat could also disintegrate Borisov altogether. 

Whatever happens, scientists are tracking the comet closely. Dr. Licandro is particularly focused on capturing Borisov’s journey. His lab was one of the first to capture high-resolution images of our guest, and they will continue to observe as it exits our neighborhood. “This is a unique opportunity to see how an object forms around another star,” he says. 

The first two interstellar visitors present many puzzles: Where do they come from? How frequently do such objects fly through our solar system? And, how many have we missed? 

European Southern Observatory / M. Kornmesser
An artist's concept of interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua as it passed through the solar system after its discovery in October 2017. Observations of 'Oumuamua indicate that it must be very elongated because of its dramatic variations in brightness as it tumbled through space.

The differences between Borisov and ‘Oumuamua make things even more interesting. While Borisov has an aura and tail familiar to comet scientists, ‘Oumuamua appeared as a dim, oblong rock that tumbled end over end. “Being able to contrast the two really tells you something about these objects,” Dr. Weryk says – and these objects are one of the few ways we can connect with the world beyond our solar system. 

Some scientists suggest the interstellar objects – and this is completely serious – might be alien sent. Even without aliens aboard or sending them as envoys, space rocks flying between solar systems offer another possibility for exchange: Could comets carry cosmic material from one side of the galaxy to another, like dandelion seeds? Scientists have pondered whether these interstellar visitors might influence the development of solar systems, define the chemistry of young planets, or even seed life across the universe. 

Fascinated by these mysteries, and inspired by Borisov’s early detection, many scientists are already thinking about future guests. One tool in development that could help comb the starscape for interstellar objects is the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile, which, if all goes according to plan, will take nightly wide-angle snapshots of the sky starting in the next few years. Other organizations, like the European Space Agency, are working on comet interceptors that may one day visit an interstellar guest. 

For Dr. Weryk, future visitors are definitely on the mind. ‘Oumuamua caught him by surprise when he discovered it in 2017. But now, every time he spots a new space rock, he wonders: Is this from interstellar space, too? 

“That’s something I never would have considered before we knew they existed for sure,” he says. “Pretty much every candidate we get now, it’s like, oh, maybe this could be the next one.”

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The Monitor's View

Tiger’s tale out of the rough

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For Tiger Woods, the golf megastar who fell from grace a decade ago after admitting marital infidelity, the American belief in second chances seems to be working. His recovery could result in 2019 being his breakthrough year.

In April he claimed his fifth Masters green jacket, his first major tournament win in more than a decade. This fall Mr. Woods won his 82nd title on the professional golf tour. And Dec. 9-15 he will captain the U.S. team against international all-stars at the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Australia.

The last decade has hardly been easy for Mr. Woods, who would attempt comebacks to the game only to face a physical setback and another long absence from the professional tour.

Now his famous work ethic and mental toughness, so important for success on the links, seem to have been joined by an equally deep dedication to raising his two young children, whom he tries to be with as much as possible.

Mr. Woods’ fall was a heartbreaking story of success crumbling into dust. Now he is writing a new story, one of the most amazing and inspiring comebacks in sports history.

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Tiger’s tale out of the rough

For Tiger Woods, the golf megastar who fell from grace a decade ago after admitting marital infidelity, the American belief in second chances seems to be working. His recovery, both morally and physically, could result in 2019 being his breakthrough year.

In April he claimed his fifth Masters green jacket, his first major tournament win in more than a decade. This fall Mr. Woods won his 82nd title on the professional golf tour, equaling the record held by Sam Snead. And Dec. 9-15 he will captain the U.S. team against international all-stars at the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Australia.

In 2009 the young Mr. Woods had already won 14 major professional golf titles and looked as though he would easily break the record of 18 set by Jack Nicklaus. His remarkable skill and success had drawn new fans to the sport. He was rich (a net worth around $800 million, by some estimates) and world famous. He was also a black man succeeding in a sport dominated by whites. His prospects seemed unbounded.

But when he crashed his SUV into a tree in November 2009 his world quickly unraveled. He confessed to being unfaithful to his wife, which led to a divorce. And then a series of physical problems sent him down a long gamut of medical treatments and an addiction to painkillers.

But unlike some who might try to deny or hide their problems, Mr. Woods took responsibility for them in what looked like true contrition to his fans.

“I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated,” he confessed to friends and family, as well as to a gathering of news media. He realized, he said, that he had “stopped living by the core values” he had been taught by his parents.

His actions had sent out wider ripples as well.

“He disappointed all of us,” said Billy Payne, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, where the prestigious Masters Tournament is held each year. “Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.”

At one point Mr. Woods said his physical ailments might not only prevent him from ever playing golf again but keep him from having any hope of a normal life.

Vowing to reform is one thing. But the real task is to follow through and change one’s actions. The last decade has hardly been easy for Mr. Woods, who would attempt comebacks to the game only to face a physical setback and another long absence from the professional tour.

Now his famous work ethic and mental toughness, so important for success on the links, seem to have been joined by an equally deep dedication to raising his two young children, whom he tries to be with as much as possible. He may never dominate golf in the way he once did, but competing at a high level again seems to be enough.

“I think it’s been incredible,” says fellow pro Rory McIlroy, who himself has won four major titles. “I think it shows his character, his mental capacity, his grit that he can come back after all these mishaps, whether it be personal life or the physical injuries that he’s had to endure.”

Mr. Woods’ fall was a heartbreaking story of success crumbling into dust. Now he is writing a new story, one of the most amazing and inspiring comebacks in sports history. No doubt the forgiveness of his fans helped him down this long fairway.

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A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

The whole world in His hands

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There’s a lot in the news about environmental problems that scientists have pointed to as evidence of climate change, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference is currently in full swing. Here’s an audio clip on how we can face fears of climate change with spiritual poise and a greater expectancy of finding solutions.

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The whole world in His hands

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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To hear Piper and Bill share how they’ve been moved to pray about climate change, click here.

Adapted from a “‘Sentinel’ Watch” podcast, Aug. 19, 2019.

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Viewfinder

Takin’ care of business

Alfredo Sosa/Staff
Busy, busy, busy. While reporting in Mexico City, I was struck by the bustling activity of the metropolis. A majority of Mexicans work in the informal economy. Domestic labor and street vending are particularly common. These jobs often lack legal protections. But decades of low economic growth and a federal minimum wage of 102.68 pesos ($5.35) per day mean that an informal job is the best way to earn a living for many Mexicans. Informal economies can exacerbate class divides, and the huge disparity between white- and blue-collar workers was very evident to me while I was in Mexico. And yet, one thing was even more obvious: Most people I encountered did their job with a smile. – Alfredo Sosa, Director of photography
( The illustrations in today's Monitor Daily are by Karen Norris. )
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In Our Next Issue

( December 9th, 2019 )

That’s a wrap for news. Come back on Monday when correspondent Stephanie Hanes take a deep dive into a new course of study cropping up in universities around the United States: happiness classes.

Monitor Daily Podcast

December 06, 2019
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