Question:   There seems to be so much unrest in the world right now and I am feeling very helpless. Do you have any suggestions?

I hear you and expect many people feel the same way. While we are starting to re-open as a county, the threat of the Coronavirus is still very real. Our community has had to adjust to many changes as we manage this current pandemic. Now, on top of daily reports about the virus, we are seeing news of protests, injustices and community unrest. This seemingly nonstop stream of turmoil can feel very overwhelming and add to a feeling of helplessness.

I always believe that it is best to find a way to feel empowered and offer to help others as a form of action. When people are in a positive frame of mind, it can lead to taking action. For example, before we begin exercising, we must first motivate ourselves and feel excited to overcome the inertia of doing nothing. Sometimes though, the good mood will not appear on its own. Sometimes we need to take action first, and then let the positive feelings come. In the exercise example, we may just need to drag ourselves out of bed and get to exercising until the good feeling overtakes us.

Taking action looks different for everyone. It is based not only on your personal beliefs and motivations, but on the boundaries of your personal situation. This includes health, physical abilities, finances, transportation, and many other factors. Consider first what your goal is from taking action and then work backwards to find the appropriate and realistic way to enable that goal.

When you are motivated to help others, what does that mean to you? For some, that may mean participating in a community event, march or movement. For others it may be signing a petition or donating to a worthy cause. You may even want to create your own sign to place in your yard or take a photo of to share with friends.   

There are also ways to feel that you are making a positive contribution on a local level through a small random act of kindness. If you are feeling helpless about the pandemic, you may begin sewing masks to donate to your neighbors, leaving out cold water for the delivery people or even calling an old friend to check in and be a social support. As you can see, taking action does not have to be political. There are many ways to help everyone in your community, including by donating blood.  

The key is to take some type of action to alleviate your feeling of helplessness. It is easy to get overwhelmed by current events and to feel that one small act of kindness or action will not affect change on a large enough scale. But I encourage you to counter those feelings by remembering that every act of kindness, no matter the size, makes an imprint on someone. It is important to remember that while there are different perspectives, we are all in this together. We show this through our acts of kindness and understanding of each other.

I read a quote once that really made an impact one me and is credited to Charles De Lint. “Every time you do a good deed you shine the light a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you’re gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.” 

Martha Shapiro can reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at


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