Amidst worldwide panic and stress, students and professors who are making an effort to spread positivity online and on campus share how doing so has made a scary situation a little bit lighter.
Chad Ford, an associate professor in the Faculty of Culture, Language, & Performing Arts, said although the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious threat and should be treated as such, he also views it as a way to grow together as people and prioritize service to others.
“We have this amazing opportunity in front of us right now. Our lives are all disrupted and many of the things we keep ourselves busy with every day are shutting down and stopping.
“While we can feel lost and genuinely feel frustration or remorse for losing those things, what it does is put our relationships right back in the center of our lives. It puts our family, our friends, our roommates and our community back in the center. With more time on our hands, we can actually now focus on the things that actually really matter.”
Ford said the hoarding and selfish mindset is very prevalent online today, and this can be damaging to the interpersonal relationships that existed before the pandemic, making it difficult to be together. He said people need to evaluate their own mindsets and look at how they are adding to the pandemic.
“How do we move from the hoarding mentality of, 'I'm going to take care of myself,' and move to thinking about how we bring others into the circle who are struggling and need help as well?
“It's going to require a level of selflessness and kindness in the midst of tragedy that is just frankly hard to muster. And that's why we call it dangerous love. Not to be loved. It's actually hard. It's hard to muster up the courage to show love in situations like that.”
Dangerous love during self-isolation
To further share his message, Ford started using his social media accounts to launch the Dangerous Love Challenge, a three-day challenge for his followers to better foster an attitude of caring for people around them, even if it means doing so virtually.
With challenges like this appearing online, Ford said this challenge was designed to both help people better connect during isolation and to combat misinformation across the web.
“That's the powerful thing about social media. It can be used for very good purposes or very dangerous ones. Right now, you're seeing both of those. You're seeing misinformation. You're seeing fear. You're seeing hate. But you're also seeing acts of love, acts of kindness, acts of solidarity, and beautiful moments of people … finding ways to really connect.”
Ford said he hoped this challenge would help to continue his spread of light and positivity when the internet is full of negative articles and statistics. He said he has received messages through social media of people who took on the Dangerous Love Challenge. Through thinking about others more, Ford said these comments focused around how these participants were making conscious efforts to interact with people in their communities and using their talents to benefit those around them.
Ford and his campaign team were able to collect these anonymous responses from their Facebook private group called Loving Dangerously.
One response Ford shared read, “The Dangerous Love Challenge has been super important for me to participate in over the last week, and I don’t see it stopping there … It has been beautiful to see this unfold in so many different ways, and there are still some ways to go.”
Ford said he ultimately hopes this challenge on his social media opens up a platform for people to continue to grow and love together, even with self-isolation and quarantine being the new normal.
Help from the inside
With Ford’s same mindset of loving and serving everyone around them, Maddi Morton, a sophomore from Idaho studying intercultural peacebuilding, is a resident advisor for Hale 7. She has been able to care for female students who have been quarantined there while waiting for their COVID-19 test results to return from the Health Center. As of April 26, there have been no cases of COVID-19 reported on campus, says the BYU-Hawaii website.
Morton said her daily duties as an RA have evolved slightly as she administers food to these students and helps them feel more comfortable in their current situation.
As a Relief Society president, Morton said her bishop encouraged different leaders in their ward to compile a makeshift Bishop’s Storehouse. They have been collecting items such as toilet paper, garbage bags and laundry detergent for students staying, specifically self-funded students.
With this preparation, Morton said her experience as an RA in the thick of COVID-19 has been easier for her to serve the people’s needs. She said serving people in this manner has been a spiritual experience for her.
“No matter who you're serving, you just grow to love them a lot. You don't even have to know somebody that well to love them. Also, the fact that I'm the only person they've seen in-person, obviously they're going to be excited when you come by with food or other things ... You just create a certain kind of relationship with those people you're helping.”
Getting by with friends
With similar ideas of being a source of light and positivity, JiaLing (Lexi) Li, a senior from Taiwan studying elementary education, said she also wants to use her social media to express herself in these times.
Working with friends, Li said she has been uploading videos performing different songs inspiring them in quarantine. Still practicing social distancing, Li said she and her friends use this as a way to share their talents for good.
“I feel like it was relaxing, and at the same time it was comforting as well. I think it was because music does bring people peace. And so, when we're playing the songs, and even when we only practice it a couple times, we still enjoy it. It's fun, and it's relaxing and calming. It was also a fun opportunity to bring our bond closer together.”
Li also said these experiences have been spiritual and reminded her of the brighter side of the situation. With a gospel perspective, Li said she has felt love from Heavenly Father as she makes these videos.
“We can just go day by day, and God is always there guiding us. So that's kind of the idea, and also we want to share our talents.”
Similarly, Morton said she has also felt God’s love and guidance as she ministers to the people in her hale. “I feel like I've received little testimonies that Heavenly Father is very aware of me through my ability to see how Heavenly Father is also aware of others.
“All the little things I was worried about, they're all in God's hands and He's figuring it out. Then [there are] other little things other people get worried about, and then somehow it just always works out.”