During these times of panic and isolation, compassion seems to be at a standstill. Social distancing has turned into more than a 6-foot gap between strangers in line at the grocery store. The elderly woman that can’t reach the last pack of toilet paper on the top shelf no longer feels comfortable asking for help. Family dinners look more like take-out containers on front steps instead of roundtables of laughter. Tarps and tents still line the streets while most people are inside baking and playing board games. Many people have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own. When life hits, it hits hard, and it doesn’t stop for anyone.
The question is: How can we pay it forward when many of us are no longer getting paid? In this life, we are not expected to be perfect beings, but people that make a difference without expectations of anything in return. Paying it forward can be something as simple as holding the door open for someone, giving someone in need the change at the bottom of your purse, or even just smiling at someone you can tell is having a rough day. Your good deed does not always need to be tangible, as people often remember how you made them feel over your words or accomplishments.
While many of us are struggling to come to terms with the vast uncertainty of the reopening of society, there are others who are trying to find basic human necessities. Many of us have a roof over our heads and can generate some form of thought about our next meal without too much worry. The homeless population is the most at risk during these difficult times. Organizations such as “HOT” Homeless Outreach Teams and other NonProfits such as Exodus Recovery and Path help those in elevated crisis.
As most of us are experiencing the discomfort of not being able to stand in the candle isle of Homegoods or sipping on a Mocha from our favorite local coffee shop, we have to stop and remember that these are privileges and there are people who are struggling to even find their next meal or clean water in our first world country. Health and safety are extremely important, while the stay at home orders are in place, public volunteering with your local nonprofit and homeless outreach programs is still welcomed and even encouraged. If you don’t have a compromised immune system please consider to volunteer a few hours in your now open week to those who need help most.
The phrase “Pay It Forward” was coined in 1916 by Lily Hardy Hammond and has since been sensationalized in literature and film. It is one of the longest lasting silent movements recognized in the US today, and even if someone hasn’t heard the phrase, human nature understands the concept. This is why things such as “The Good Samaritan Law” exist in society today. In good conscience, most people cannot watch the suffering of another human being without taking action; it is a visceral reaction.
Kindness generates more kindness. Although sometimes you may not feel like you’re making a huge difference, your small act of kindness could change someone’s mindset temporarily, or even permanently. There’s no way to know what other people are going through in their lives, and a smile or a brief “How are you today?” could shift their perception of humanity entirely. Although the world has transitioned into more of an “every man for himself” mentality over the years, the same amount of compassion and understanding has also surfaced.
Next time you see someone having a tough time, consider making it easier for them just because you can. Consider the profound difference you can make in people’s lives by simply paying it forward. The energy you put into the world is the energy you will get back, and the karmic cycle will continue to work in your favor as long as your actions encourage positivity and growth in yourself and others.
Author: C.M.E. & K.A.F.