The Little Things We Do Have Profound Effects on Others
A message lit the screen on my phone. “Did you lose your wallet?” asked a stranger. “Did I?” I asked myself, searching the confines of my apartment. I hadn’t even realized it was lost before that message. This complete stranger left a note near a tree outside my apartment with his contact information, and while most people would call it a day he didn’t stop there: he went through the trouble to find a way to contact me online and messaged me. He reminded me that people can be kind and generous. The warmth I felt from such a simple act from a person who knew nothing about me had a profound effect. And it made me want to share that feeling with others. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the largest impacts on others.
A restaurant in DTLA. If I hold hands with my boyfriend, I still find myself searching the faces of others for that judgmental look. Will someone say something? Could there be a physical confrontation? Will I be hurt? Many people know this feeling one way or another, whether it be because of what you look like, who you are, or who you love. And while a glancing look or casual remark may seem trivial to the actor, it is a negative experience that will be remembered forever by the recipient. And while the actor goes on living their life unaffected, the recipient will be living in a world slightly less welcome and slightly more afraid.
Labels. Why does being gay have to be a distinguishing factor? The “gay friend,” the “gay brother,” the “gay one.” The entirety of a person’s existence is dismissed and unfairly simplified through the use of these seemingly harmless identifiers. The gendering of nonsensical items also sends a message of disproval: A “manly” car or a “girly” drink. A car is a car. A drink is a drink. A preference is a preference and is as equally valid as the next person’s. If I want to order a drink that tastes like candy, I’d like to do so without having my identity attacked.
The same holds true for all oppressed minorities. And we each can make a difference. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” It’s a cute adage to combat name-calling, but it ignores and dismisses the long-term effects that words can have on a person. Words matter. And we can all take the time to do small things to make others feel not so different and not so alone: Returning a wallet, a few kind words, or even a smile. When it comes to love and respect for the dignity of others, a little can go a long way. And I think a lot of us will be happier in a world where we don’t feel so alone.