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A Pandemic of the Heart

A plot to infect the world with kindness and acceptance

By Dani BananiPublished 12 months ago 9 min read
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A Pandemic of the Heart
Photo by Ditto Bowo on Unsplash

Wouldn't you agree that feeling loved, like you belong in this world, and being given a helping hand (because no one deserves to suffer) sounds like an ideal world to live in? It seems so simple, yet we haven't achieved it. Why is that, I wonder?

Political concerns have divided humans, racism has been given a loudspeaker to unfathomable numbers of humans around us, censorship threatens the truth of our past, present, and future...it feels like all is lost when you really think about it.

Except, I don't think I like that idea at all. In fact, I would like to formally reject this concept. No, thank you. I have better ideas!

But first!

If we want to execute these wonderful ideas (if I do say so myself) we must identify obstacles and discuss how to overcome those.

Another thing to remember: it's work, okay, and it's going to be hard work that we may not even see many fruits of the labor. The important thing to remember is this is a foundation for a better, more loving and accepting world, and we don't have to see the winning result in order to appreciate putting the work in. Knowing we're laying the groundwork is enough of a reward. Remembering that is the first step! So keep that in mind as we move along.

AND NOW, OUR FEATURE PRESENTATION!

By Alex Litvin on Unsplash

Part One of the Pandemic of Love - Representation

Disney recently gifted us with the complete masterpiece of a movie called Encanto. If you haven't seen it, my goodness, please just stop reading right now and go watch it. It is wonderful.

On social media, photos and stories started making waves as children who resembled the characters excitedly noted their similarities. We keep hearing the phrase that "representation matters" and while most of the people who are outspoken about this concept are adults, seeing children present us with the reality of how important that representation is...well, that's a great starting point at working on making sure the whole world feels like they belong. Little boys with afros saw themselves in Antonio while beautiful little curly-haired girls in round glasses felt like Mirabel. And it's not just Encanto that brought me the realization of just how important representation is to everyone. I've read stories of children being unafraid to approach the autistic child at a playground because they saw an autistic puppet on Sesame Street. There are plenty of examples in some feel-good articles on social media that show how a child felt seen and part of this world they live in. To be included when the world seems trained to avoid you is a feeling that is, quite frankly, indescribable. If you don't know that feeling, you are quite lucky!

So here are my solutions to ensure representation spreads faster than a viral mutation.

If you are a creator in any way, be it a writer, artist, sculptor, or anything in between, this is your part of the job in making our world happier and more accepting: represent everyone. Put every type of person or creature in your creations. We all deserve to be part of it. We're on this planet as a team! Why only create for a few when you can create and display your work to so many more?!

If you're not a creator, seek your entertainment with a variety of talents to admire. Look for the heroes who don't look or act like you. Listen to the music created by unfamiliar cultures. Read a book by an author from a different continent. The knowledge you and your family will gain from drinking in the content they produce is invaluable to making the world feel like home for everyone. The world is limitless with imagination and creativity, so why on Earth would you subject yourself and your little ones to the same old boring thing all the time?

These are your jobs. I promise they aren't hard! But I do suggest you get started as soon as possible.

By Josh Appel on Unsplash

Part Two of the Pandemic of Love - You Can Still Give on No Budget

I have great news for you:

Source

And hey, it's no secret that the pandemic has created financial woes for nearly all of us. Ever since this all began I've seen countless GoFundMe pages set up, and each time I've felt guilt. Or seeing local homeless shelters, food banks, animal shelters, and aid for the elderly ask for money, wishing with my whole heart that I could do something for each and every person suffering. How can I donate when my family has barely made it ourselves?

Luckily, some people still can, but for those of us who can't always make a commitment like that, there are other ways of donating yourself to a cause. It only costs you time and the deepest reaches of your heart.

If the pandemic hasn't affected your physical abilities, you can easily volunteer to perform services at the above-mentioned places. But I also know that a lot of people want to give their time and love like this and cannot (due to personal challenges that come with being disabled or incapacitated in some way or another.)

By Romain Virtuel on Unsplash

And that's okay because that gives those people plenty of time to give back by Googling ways to volunteer online. Some places need crisis counselors to speak with suicidal callers while others need specialized support from people in their own communities (LGBTQ+, specific races, religions, etc.) All it takes is a little research and the time spent on the computer or phone helping to navigate other humans through this difficult life we're sharing together, even if we're super far apart.

There's always something that can be done, and the value of giving your time and affection to humans in need is just as important as (if not more than) donating money.

Maybe you don't have a car, finances, or the body to help your goals of sharing kindness with the world with rides, financial support, or helping a friend move to a new home...but you sure do have a heart, so give it a little exercise on people who need it.

By Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

Part Three of the Pandemic of Love - Listening to Understand

I wish I could remember where I read this terrific piece of advice, but I'll never forget it:

Don't listen to reply. Listen to understand.

When people in pain speak, we must listen to understand. Native Americans going missing and asking for answers and help, African Americans describing racist experiences, disabled people describing discrimination by doctors, fatphobia from medical professionals, Asian Americans begging for an end to violence against them (perpetuated by social media users who do not have the heart we have), autistic adults who want you to know who they are and being dismissed because they're somehow considered "lesser" than a neurotypical human, and the list goes on and on. It's an insult to their dignity when we listen for the sake of formulating a heartfelt reply. We're not giving back to any of these groups by replying kindly; we'd be giving back in a better way by listening to understand. Once we understand, we have more capabilities and energy to devote to these causes and help in whatever way they inform us is most effective, because we've taken the time to let this issue into our hearts. A cause has to enter your heart for it to give you that boost you need to work for the comfort and inslusivity of others.

To put it simply: listen, pay attention, ask questions, and get involved. The world can't change if more of us don't take the time to understand our neighbors.

By National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Part Four of the Pandemic of Love - Openness in the Home

Speaking for families of all sorts (although your fur members may not be able to participate much, my apologies!), keeping your home open and informed in unbiased ways is a great way to foster the seeds of acceptance.

I am a stay-at-home mother of four. I read a lot of political stuff. I read a lot, period. (I write too, I'm not sure if you knew that.) My partner and I discuss my findings, formulate our opinions, and when we sit down for dinner with our team of youths, we present the daily updates. We've discussed voting rights, legislation and its progress or lack thereof, the purpose of the legislation pieces, controversial statements by Congresspeople, and other tidbits of news we find relevant. In future generations, they will never demonstrate the understanding of inclusivity, kindness, awareness, and acceptance if we don't mold the minds of the ones who will someday lead this world when we're long gone.

We lay it all out, and we lay it out factually. There are no hints of our feelings about things. We let them decide. I can't say there has been a moment when they didn't choose an opinion that factored in their feelings for the well-being of the situation.

AND FINALLY...

By Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Don't forget about how important the "little things" are!

Sometimes I'm scrolling Twitter and I see a tweet from someone I'm not following because someone I AM following "liked" the tweet (whew, that was a whirlwind.) Sometimes that tweet includes a selfie, and the person is a bit unhappy with it.

I leave a positive comment. Why not? I can compliment random strangers if I wanna. One day at the grocery store, I specifically made it a goal to find someone and compliment something about them. (I chose a lady in a yellow dress, especially because I'm one of those "goths" who wears nothing but black.) Have you ever thanked a customer service worker and seen them overwhelmed by finally being treated kindly?

I remember working at a department store one day, having the worst shift possible, and at the very end of it, an elderly woman stopped to talk to me about her life. She gave me so much hope for living my best life no matter how bleak things may look. I bet she never knew what that conversation did for me, and I wish she did. But that's the point! You spend time with someone, give them your positivity and attention, and create something so special. What's better to spread love than something like that?!

What feels like a minuscule act to you could absolutely change someone else's entire day, and it takes minimal energy. As many times as you think about saying something nice, just get that courage up and do it. It's easy, fast, and fun to spread that kind of love! (Just do it at a proper social distance with a mask! We don't wanna go spreading too much, now!)

By Joel Mott on Unsplash

Look, there's really no other way to put it: we've all been in hell since this whole pandemic began. It's 2022 and we're still in the depths of the insanity. What could possibly be better than following the above plan in order to cool this hell down just a little bit? C'mon, we need these fresh ice cubes of wisdom to cool us down as the Earth warms up. Let's make lifting each other up the most infectious disease our society has ever seen. It won't kill ya.

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About the Creator

Dani Banani

I write through the passion I have for how much the world around me inspires me, and I create so the world inside me can be manifested.

Mom of 4, Birth Mom of 1, LGBTQIA+, I <3 Love.

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