Contagion vs. Compassion

“One bad apple spoils the lot.” That creaky aphorism is based on equally venerable experience. Rot is contagious.

Bad company makes bad behavior seem the norm, and we adjust our own standards ever lower accordingly. One or two disheveled houses bring down the values of the others in the neighborhood, and those, in turn, fall into neglect and decay as their owners lose the courage and determination to resist the incredible pull of entropy. What isn’t growth is death.

What leads otherwise good and sane people to fall apart like that? Doubt; fear; despair. These are the hallmarks of contagion: the plague succeeds in felling us not only through its own virulence but because rather than seek its cure with full courage and determination we flee with it hot pursuit, and when it eventually catches up with us, we topple, curl up in the fetal position, and succumb.

The fall of one member of the world community—like Mr. Duncan, who was felled by Ebola in Texas—is a very real and terrible loss for all. The loss of thousands—those dying in West Africa—is indeed a plague and a thousand-fold grief we all must recognize and bear. The response, though, cannot be equally contagious doubt, fear, and despair. That can only make us choose unconstructive, even destructive, responses like blame, xenophobia, retreat, and the neglect of our fellow citizens of the earth. Then, no matter how many or few have been overtaken by disease and disaster, the contagion will have won.Photo: Snakebit

11 thoughts on “Contagion vs. Compassion

  1. Brilliant post – and as my dear late Father would have said…’Spot on’
    He also used to say, there are those who want to bring everyone else DOWN to their level……..’ Sadly this is true.

    Have a beautiful weekend. xx

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve had to distance myself from a few folks that have always been ‘downer-Debbies’ for years in my life. I am sorry to have to do it, however they made thier own bed, so to speak. I know everyone is not happy all the time, however I try to smile more often than not!

    • Knowing when it’s okay, if not important, to get away from the bad things *and* people in our lives that would drag us down is a great skill too. I know from experience that it’s much easier to keep smiling then than if I let myself get stuck in the vortex of any unnecessary unhappiness.

      Here’s a smile for you, because you *do* always make me feel like smiling. 😀

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