If you didn’t notice, there’s been a contagious enemy raging in our country for the better part of this year, but it’s not the one you’re probably thinking of (and I’m not even going to say its name). I’m talking about a pandemic of contagious anger and divisiveness that has swept through the country. The alarming part about it is how easy it has spread, and how easily we’ve just accepted and condoned it as a way of life. Our interactions in real life have become like social media, and social media is off the charts. It’s almost like it’s fashionable to be mad online, or that it’s not enough to be upset about something but that you need attention for being upset. I’m not sure any of that is something to be proud of.
The worst part is it’s almost like we want this contagion. We want to be divided, we want to yell and hold grudges (real or perceived). People are argumentative and contentious while complaining about how argumentative and contentious “the other side” is. Let’s face it, we’re all hypocrites on both sides. We’ve probably overreacted, we’ve probably done things that we wish we hadn’t, we’ve probably done the exact thing we’re mad about “the other side” doing. Still, we let the disease of divisiveness wash over us and infect our hearts, our minds, and even our physical health.
But you know what else is contagious? Kindness. Love. Patience. Civility. I was always told part of being an adult is recognizing that you can’t control what happens, but you can control how you respond to it and how you treat people. Be the good kind of contagious. Spread love and kindness. Spread patience and graciousness. Spread calmness and diplomacy. And be an active spreader, too, none of this passive stuff. Actively infect people with your kindness and understanding, and encourage them to infect others. I’ve always heard that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and you’ll accomplish more for both sides when you behave as such. Really, there is no “other side.” Sure, we have differing opinions, but the only people who are divided or violent are the ones who already want to be that way, not because someone else made them do it. We’re all humans, we’re all much, much, much, more alike than we are different. Focus on that common ground instead of treating life and politics and relationships as games to be won and lost, because we’re all going to lose that game when it comes down to it. In a world where it looks like we can’t control anything, control how you treat others and see how much your life improves.