I chanced upon the television set yesterday and saw in the news images of a huge number of people lining up to receive their dole-outs from the government. This as the Philippine government has started the process of distributing funds to local government units to help those who ended up being hit hard by the lockdowns due to the pandemic.
Given that it is a dry season here in the country, I can only imagine how difficult it is to line up on the venues waiting for your turn to receive cash that could barely support a family's need to last even just a couple of days. If not cash, a few grocery items consisting of two or three cans of sardines, a bag of rice, coffee sachets, and sachets of coffee are normally given to aspiring recipients.
With millions of people now affected by the pandemic, we can only imagine how much longer the lines would be for those who are desperately wanting to receive assistance. People need real help.
Looking at things as a person who still has a job and a decent source of living, this is what I believe: now more than ever is the time for us to expand the reach of our generosity. More than any other time, this is the chance for many of us to show compassion, if even for once in our lifetime.
If you still have a decent source of living, consider yourself blessed. The pandemic has already caused the loss of an equivalent of 255 million jobs as of January this year. And for that reason, I encourage you to spend.
Yes, spend. Spend not out of lavishness but spend out of generosity and thanksgiving.
I have little belief in giving dole-outs as they only invite people to a life of mendicancy, if not mediocrity. Governments spend especially during trying times in order to keep the economy rolling. We may not be able to spend as much money as the government does but let us be a part of the solution to "keep the ball rolling", as they say.
My suggestion is this: if possible, patronize small thriving businesses so that business owners have the chance to earn. And that will enable them to continue doing business. You may start buying from friends who are trying to make ends meet by putting up a business no matter how small.
By earning from their own efforts instead of relying on handouts, you also help them live a dignified life. The pandemic can take away jobs, but we can do something to prevent it from taking away people's dignity.
While you still have a job, allocate a portion of your earnings to establish a business of your own. Opening up a business also opens the possibility of giving job opportunities to those who have lost their livelihood during these times.
If you decide to establish a business of your own today, you also increase the possibility of higher income streams once the pandemic is over and the global economy has begun picking up. It is as if you are a fisherman who cast down his nets early and began harvesting beyond expectation when the fish rushed toward the direction of his nets.
Continue to nurture relationships. Most of us are stuck at home due to travel restrictions. But the internet provides us the avenue to keep on reaching out to others.
Don't just be a listener to other people's stories of success. Be the narrator yourself.
There is no better time to spread hope especially now that the threat of Covid-19 is so real. It may have already affected your friends, your co-workers, or even relatives. But wherever you are, don't let the physical barriers prevent you from spreading what people need most right now - hope.
As the saying goes, give a man fish and he will eat for a day; teach him how to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life. But there is a catch: you yourself need to know how to fish.
So develop whatever skills you have so that you can teach other people. Learn new skills that align with your passions. It not only opens opportunities for other people, but it will also benefit you in the long run.
Let us not permit the pandemic to cower us in fear. Let us continue being agents of hope. And together, with heads up high, we will survive.
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Be blessed and be a blessing.