During these tragic and anxiety-filled times, we are witnessed extremes in human behavior.

Extremes.

On the one hand, we have the fundamental decency of medical professionals and first responders who are sanctifying their oath by selfless action; indeed many have perished through the acts of aiding others and warning the world about an impending disaster. In the United States, once again nurses show themselves to be among our most decent and giving citizens.

On the other, we have the arrogant nonchalance of those who either believe this pandemic is an ideological construct or simply don’t care about their role in transmission who blithely continue to “live life” in a Randian dystopic manner. Democracy’s limits are reached when people are free to trample upon the rights of others and to actively put their lives in danger — staked on the altar of personal freedom and their need for beers at the pub.

Amazing generosity and decency contrasted with sickening callousness. Indeed, that might be the story of humanity.

And then of course there are those of us in the middle, who are neither selfless nor callous. As we quarantine ourselves and go to a “new normal,” we ask ourselves, how indeed we can help those who are affected by the pandemic and its offshoots.

A few ideas:

1. Don’t be part of the problem. Follow public health guidelines and put the collective before the self. Just because “you want to do X” doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

2. Inquire often. Ask your neighbors, parents, friends, and others if they need anything. With modern technology, you can ask without putting yourself or them at risk.

3. Support people financially. Thousands of people have already been laid off or are making grisly calculations about losing wages or staying safe. If you have means, donate money, gift cards, or useful goods to families who are facing these unenviable choices.

4. Remember the thin line between solvency and poverty/bankruptcy. Many small businesses cannot afford even minor dips in business; further, once they are gone, the “restart” costs can be prohibitive. Support these businesses with donations, grants, or with “future purchases” paid for now. Even selfishness has a role here- do you want to see your favorite local eatery close permanently?

There are other, structural issues to consider too.

1. Use this time to think about your own buying habits. Maybe it’s worth buying some goods directly from producers and not using cheaper middle-men. Support the source.

2. Subscribe now. If small or struggling businesses get subscription funds now, they can plan their futures because they have a predictable income stream.

Many people have been sharing amazing ideas about how to help others during this period. These are just a few ideas. I hope they help.

Originally published in Medium

Romi Mahajan in an Author, Marketer, Investor, and Activist


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