The power of communities

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We live in a complicated world, and life can be hard and unfair sometimes. The last thing we need is to drift apart from each other and forget what we all are, humans. We must stick together and look out for one another, take care of each other. In the end, it’s one of the things that makes life so beautiful.

Even though we all have bad days, when we are impulsive and angry and we just snap at everybody, I think we all mean well and we want people to be ok, but there are many things in the way, we are more separated, more focused on each individual rather than the whole, the community. And that’s the normal thing to do for us. A long time ago, we used to live in groups, and we would do anything to protect our group, we were just a big, loving and loyal family when it came to our “tribe”. But since we evolved and started creating bigger cities, smaller families and smaller communities, that changed.

If before we would be born and die in the same place, among the same people that we were loyal to, now we are more free, we can leave our birthplace, even our family, we are able to manage on our own if we want to. Even though this has brought us a lot of freedom and power, it has also brought us loneliness. We are not meant to live alone, we are social creatures, our brains develop through the connections we make with other people, this is the way the brain is designed. No matter how much we try to run away from people and from love, because we are afraid of getting hurt, we can’t. We will never want to be alone, it is our biggest fear, our greatest weakness.

But what if we could go back to being a big family? What if the entire world could be our family? Nobody in this world is really bad in essence, nobody is born to be bad, it’s just a sum of all the traumas and other experiences they had in their lives that turned them into a bad person. In essence, we are all good people, and we are better, stronger and happier in a group.

During the months of quarantine and dealing with the pandemic situation, we thought social isolation will destroy our relationships, keeping us further away from people that ever, but in fact it did the exact opposite. It brought us closer, it made us unite and stand together to fight the same “enemy”, to save our loved ones. Because this is our instinct when we are in danger, to come closer and stick together, it’s what we are designed to do, but we often forget that while being caught up in the superficial aspects of life like money, fame, social status. This was very easy to observe during the last few months, how communities became closer, people started to meet their neighbors, to help the local businesses, to do everything in their power to help the front liners, to take care of each other more than ever.

The movement “We are helping you from…” started like a snowball from a few people from Geeks for Democracy (an organization in Bucharest) who wanted to help their neighbors with shopping, and turned into an avalanche of people from all over the country who had a common goal – to contribute somehow to help their communities during the pandemic. People were closer than ever, volunteering for all kinds of causes, donating money, shopping for people who were too vulnerable to get out of the house, anything that was necessary. It was a huge, unbreakable force powered by people eager to help, because we realized what is the most important thing for us: people. And we realized life is better when we are with them, not against them. We are all in this together, so if you want to be closer to your community, to something nice for the people around you and make their day better, especially in the uncertain moments, when they need it the most, here are a few things you could do:

1. Randomly smile at strangers

When life is not going that great, a smile can go a long way. It can help a person know they are not alone, they are not the only ones, and it can lighten their day during their darkest moments. It might make them smile as well and feel like they are a part of something bigger.

2. Help your vulnerable neighbors

We all have some neighbors that are really struggling right now. Maybe they are too afraid to get out of the house, maybe they had to stay in the house alone, maybe they are sick, maybe they feel lonely. If you offer to go do some shopping for someone, bring them a hot meal or just have a conversation with them, it will mean more to them than we might think.

3. Create a free library in your apartment building

We all have books we no longer use, but we don’t want to throw them away. Why not let other people enjoy them as well and learn from them? You can set up a table or shelf in the building where you leave some books that people could borrow, and encourage your neighbors to do the same. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure. I’m sure many people would be happy to find a better purpose for their favorite books who are just sitting on a shelf, unused.

4. Support the local businesses

This has been a very difficult time for everyone, but for the local businesses, it has been devastating. Hundreds of them shut down, because they didn’t make enough money to pay rent. The big companies and chains will survive, but the locals need our help now more than ever, so buy from them as much as possible. And if you can afford it, also leave a good tip for baristas, delivery people and so on, this is not easy for them either and it would help them a lot.

5. Give someone a compliment

People love to hear compliments, and unfortunately we don’t say them enough. Even if they are often in our head, people need to hear them, now more than ever. Tell people how much they mean to you, how much you love them, what you appreciate about them, tell the cashier you really appreciate the work they do for you, tell the delivery man he is a hero. Because they are. It’s not just the doctors and policemen who are saving us during these times, it’s all the people who are still working and endangering themselves for us. So thank them! They will really appreciate it.

There are many ways in which we can help people, connect with them and make them feel better. But in the end, just remember that we are all in this together, we are all struggling and doing our best. We can never know exactly what the other person is going through, they might be having the worst day of their life and we might not even know it. So why make them suffer even more, when we could help each other and look out for one another? Your smile or nice gesture might be the best thing that happened to them in a while, it might be the thing that gives them hope. We can make the world a better place, one small gesture at a time.

Written by: Chirvase Maria