Reflect & Act: Small Acts Have Big Impacts


As communities across Maine and the world grapple with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, diseases of old, namely hate and prejudice, have made their appearance. But so too have the remedies for such vices become apparent as we strive to care and create community amidst the chaos; remedies such as hope, love, resilience and tolerance.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, government officials and health professionals have pointed to the washing of hands as one of the most effective ways to combat the virus.

In addition, countless videos, articles, memes and posts have all pointed to the power of soap and the benefits of cleaning your hands.

Underlying all of this is the very real notion that washing your hands isn’t necessarily only good for you, it’s good for the public health as well. In other words, it’s an act of consideration and kindness for other human beings around you. Some of whom may be immunocompromised or may not have fully-developed immune systems (such as babies and the elderly).

When it comes to protecting the health of the community (in this case, the world) as a whole, success hinges on everyone doing their small part. When everyone does their small part, taking action to wash their hands, the risk of a virus or disease spreading is reduced.

In much the same way, when we all do our part to address, speak up and stand against hate, bigotry, prejudice, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia, the less likely these societal ills will spread.

Like washing your hands, a small act of kindness, consideration and empathy only goes so far. But when all these small acts are viewed as a whole, as the combined acts of hundreds of thousands and millions of people, then we see the true impact that we each have together.

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About the Author

Marpheen Chann is HHRC’s Southern Maine Educator. He is an openly gay, second-generation Cambodian American and a Portland, Maine-based thinker, writer and speaker on LGBTQ+ and immigrants’ rights, social justice and equality. He was born in California to a refugee family who later moved to Maine in the late-90s. At the age of 9, he was placed in foster care and later adopted at age 14 by an evangelical, white working class family in Western Maine.

Marpheen is the president of the Cambodian Community Association and has served on the boards of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center and Maine Association of New Americans. While in law school, he chaired the Maine Law LGBTQ+ Law and Policy group and spent 7 months in the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Marpheen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Southern Maine and a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law.


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