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Times now are difficult to take. Make sure to counter all of the bad news with reminders of positivity and hope.

COURTESY PHOTO: THE FOUNDATION FOR A BETTER LIFE - One of the public service ads that is part of The Foundation for a Better Life's new series of coronavirus-themed 'Pass It On' ads is a reminder that this will one day be behind us.There's a lot of negativity in the news lately.

It's not unwarranted — after all, we are facing challenges most of us haven't seen within our lifetimes. There's no denying all those jobless claims, or those harrowing accounts from medical workers and first responders, or the cancellation of classes, sports games, concerts, festivals and ceremonies we often use to mark time.

But while we should all be clear-eyed about these challenges, and the obstacles that remain before we can all return to life as we once knew it, we also can't marinate in negativity.

We wrote previously in these pages about a Wieden+Kennedy advertising campaign designed to grab Oregonians' attention and communicate the importance of social distancing measures in a stark, unsparing way. Those ads are uncomfortable, we noted, but they have value and merit as we confront this public health crisis.

Read our editorial from April 1, 2020, on the Wieden+Kennedy ad campaign.

But another public service campaign has also caught our eye, one we believe is important for very different reasons.

Just about everyone is familiar with the "Pass It On" ad series. Produced by The Foundation for a Better Life, the ads — really, public service announcements, since they're not hawking any products or services — are cheesy and sappy, each promoting a positive value and encouraging readers or viewers to "pass it on."

This month, the foundation rolled out a new line of public service messages "designed to express appreciation for those who have valiantly stepped up during the COVID-19 crisis and to bring optimism and hope to local communities."

Newspaper ads include a picture of a doctor or nurse, wearing personal protective equipment, with the message, "First in. Second to none. Courage. PassItOn.com." A second shows two adults, perhaps a mother and daughter, on opposite sides but facing toward each other, with the message, "Stay apart. Pull together. Unity. PassItOn.com." Another, a person approaching the light at the end of a tunnel: "It will get brighter. Optimism. PassItOn.com."

Are they schmaltzy? Sure. Are they especially original? Not really.

But they convey a message that we need to hear in these times, just as much as we need to know the importance of following social distancing guidelines and taking care of ourselves and our loved ones during this pandemic.

Caution is critical. Pragmatism is wise. But panic and despair do us no good and do our frontline workers no credit.

It's true, we live in difficult times, and our entire way of life has been forced to change. But when we stay home instead of going out, we're doing something good not only for ourselves, but for others, limiting the chances for the coronavirus to spread in our community and beyond — and our actions make a difference. When our medical workers and first responders suit up and head in, they're taking on a challenge that may be immense, but it's not insurmountable — and their actions make a difference.

The other side of this crisis may not yet be in sight, or at least not yet in focus. But it is out there. We could do worse than to keep in mind some positive values as we keep working toward a future that's not dominated by COVID-19.


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