I have two compelling stories but only enough newsletter space for one, so I’m going to give short snippets of each under the banner of finding a critical commonality in our very complicated world.

The first story is about how things for transgender humans are changing for the better at light speed—even when some governmental and religious actors seek to do otherwise. A HuffPost piece by Jeanne Talbot about her now sixteen-year-old-daughter Nicole (who was assigned a male gender identity at birth) details how Massachusetts middle school administrators worked hard to make Nicole’s gender transitioning a positive experience. This included a principal who took pains to educate teachers, administrators and students on the importance of using female pronouns and Nicole’s female name. As Mom reports, the principal later said, “Nicole, you are my greatest teacher.” Recently, Nicole sang the national anthem at a Boston Bruins game as part of the NFL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative.

Still, in November, Massachusetts voters will consider a ballot question on whether to repeal that state’s law that specifically protects transgender people in their right to use public facilities. (A similar measure in Anchorage, Alaska failed in early April.)

The second story I want to highlight is about Yeweinishet “Weini” Mesfin, a sixty-one-year-old night janitor at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, who had lived out of her Honda Civic for the last seven years of her life. Weini was born to a wealthy Eritrean family and grew up in Ethiopia; she came to the U.S. in 1982 to join a then-boyfriend. After losing her job at a bank and facing mounting medical bills and other debt, she took the job at Disney.

Weini’s homelessness became known to several coworkers, who offered Weini financial assistance which she refused. A homeless services agency also reached out to Weini but she said she didn’t need any help. Family members on the U.S. east coast had no idea about Weini’s plight.

When Weini didn’t show to work in November 2016, co-workers searched for her car and posted “missing person” flyers in the area. Weini was eventually found dead in her car of an apparent heart condition 20 days after she went missing. The car was parked at a health club where Weini showered each day.

As I think about these two stories, the common thread is hope. For young Nicole, she’s living in a world where others affirm her right to live authentically and where she and family members have great hope that her future will be very bright. This is proof of how hope can motivate and lift.

For Weini, I assume the absence of hope—the absolute loss of believing that things will ever get better—contributed to her situation and probably fed into a variety of mental health problems. In Weini’s case, losing hope was like a knife to the heart.

We must remember the power of hope, positive or negative. Let us dedicate ourselves to spreading hope throughout the world—the lives of so many people depend on it.