Imagine this: you are a pebble dropping into water, and as you fall, ripples expand across the surface. This ripple effect applies to humans, too. Just like pebbles stimulating a wave of ripples, an action of one can impact many. From the #MeToo and #StopAsianHate movement, the spread of community pantries, to growing your own food at home—we have seen proof that small acts can lead to far-reaching changes, ringing in all directions and stirring others to also take action.
But in a digital world facing a pandemic—where we are connected online, separated physically, and at times divided by differing beliefs—how can we show love and initiate ripples of change in our communities?
Listen with Empathy
As Stephen Covey once said, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." This is true on social media, where we speak our beliefs but shun others who are not within our bubble. Sometimes, we can't withhold judgment in a heated argument and instead start composing a response in our minds.
But when we listen with empathy, we hold space for people to share what they are feeling. This openness enables us to understand and interpret others' views and provide an appropriate response that's not ridden with judgment, hate, and biases, fostering a community where a healthy exchange of ideas exists.
A simple act of emphatic listening acknowledges the voices of others and can go a long way in building a world where everyone is seen and heard.
Combat Disinformation with Education
Social media has its pros and cons—it gives us access to information, but it also misinforms us. This can be seen today, where individuals and personalities have used technology to propagate truth or revise it.
A 2021 study conducted by the Ateneo Policy Center in Manila (reported via The Interpreter) showed that for "a significant percentage of the youth in particular geographical areas, the ability to spot fake news is below the pass rate, which is typically 75 percent in the Philippines." The study reveals that even young voters (who are mostly digital natives) still need to develop critical literacy skills to tackle fake news. Building these skills is especially important in this political climate, and what we can do is educate them.
We can observe what people in our online community share. We can reach out to them through various ways: explaining why their shared post is fake, how clicking or sharing misinformation affects others, and sharing tips and valuable materials on spotting fake news.
In turn, they can educate other people, nurturing informed, knowledgeable individuals who can make the right choices.
Be a Better Local
Love starts by growing within. When the pandemic hit, many local brands, artisans, and creatives struggled to keep their craft and businesses afloat. Whether it's your local taho vendor, your favorite artist, or a homegrown cafe, consider purchasing items from them for your everyday essentials or for special occasions. When we strengthen the local economy, we take part in building a way of life that's more creative, inclusive, and sustainable.
Being a better local also involves using what we have to support or collaborate with passion projects and movements in our locality. These projects, which usually are brimming with ideas but do not have enough resources, deserve to have a platform—and by simply sharing, recommending, or working with them, you can give them a voice.
Check in Through Small Gestures
Sometimes, all we need is someone to talk to. A simple kumusta through chat, call, or e-mail can go a long way for people feeling alone or struggling with this pandemic. Take time to contact a family member you have not seen in a while, send a thank-you card to a co-worker who helped you out, read stories with your child, or make amends with a friend or loved one.
Checking in can also be extended to your neighbors, especially those who are vulnerable such as the elderly, immunocompromised, struggling financially, or have mobility issues. Do they need help finishing errands, or are they running out of supply? Sharing what you have or what you can do lets them realize that there are people in their community willing to help out.
Changing our surroundings through simple acts of love may sound like a daunting task, but like a small pebble casting ripples in a vast lake, it all begins with a small action. You—your resources, everyday choices, and commitment to helping others—can be a part of a collective force of people making their own ripples, initiating tangible and meaningful change.
Words by Monica Antonio | Cover art by Kyla dela Torre