No, I’m not going to talk about COVID 19, because I think we’ve had enough. But I do want to mention some things about contagion.
A dictionary defines ‘contagion’ as “the communication of disease from one person or organism to another by close contact”. However, it can be broadened to mean “the ready transmission or spread as of an idea or emotion from person to person”. Let’s look at some of these.
We all know there are some diseases that can be transmitted from person to person, usually quite unwittingly. We don’t know that we’re doing it.
COVID 19 is, of course, one example. But there have been many others in history, such as smallpox, bubonic plague, leprosy, HIV and the common influenza and colds. Transmission can occur through touch, bodily fluids and often spread by coughing or sneezing which releases droplets into the air that can be breathed by another person.
Basic hygiene is often enough to prevent or lessen the spread of such things. We are getting better at devising vaccines that can ameliorate symptoms of even such a wily adversary as the flu virus, which periodically changes its antigens at random.
Ultimately, we don’t want to transmit such things or if we have, it’s not intentional.
Fear, or really any emotion, is a different kettle of fish. Humans are very emotional creatures and we tend to pick up on how we are each feeling.
Of all the emotions, fear seems to be the strongest one. They say that animals (read dogs particularly) can sense your fear and react accordingly – usually with fear of their own. Their reaction is often to try to rip you to shreds because they don’t like your fear.
Fear is also a powerful and effective tool of our enemy. It can paralyse us into doing nothing or make us act irrationally about something. Think about the latest fiasco with toilet paper! How rational was that, yet the whole community was affected.
We must remember that “perfect love casts out fear”! And that will only happen if we are in such an intimate relationship with our Lord that we believe, no matter what is happening, that God knows us and loves us and has the best for us.
There is no antidote for fear apart from being in relationship with God and knowing His plans for us.
I love this poem – Smiling is Infectious - by Jez Alborough (often attributed to Spike Milligan):
Smiling is infectious,
You catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today
I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner
And someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized
I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile,
Then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine,
Could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin,
Don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick
And get the world infected!
Enough said. I challenge you to randomly smile at people and see how they react!
I mentioned before that fear is possibly the strongest emotion that we can express. Certainly, it can be instant and tends to cause extreme responses from people, besides being very catching.
Love, on the other hand, takes time. It needs time to incubate, time to penetrate our stubbornness and, yes, fear. But having come to terms with love, putting aside feelings of lust, sentimentality, and just plain soppiness, true love holds on, never stops and never gives up. Fear and many other emotions come and go and often depend on what has recently happened to us.
It’s an injustice to call ‘love’ just an emotion. It is far more. It is a lifestyle, a way of seeing and interacting with our world and the people in it.
Therefore love’s not something you can ‘catch’, like a disease. It is something that we all have to grow into – it doesn’t come naturally. It requires a transformation of our ways of thinking and living. But it still can be contagious, infiltrating communities and relationships as people see us living it out.
So let’s be contagious people – spreading love, joy, peace and hope around!
Aira Chilcott is a retired secondary school teacher with lots of science andtheology under her belt. Aira is an editor for PSI and indulges inreading, bushwalking and volunteering at a nature reserve. Aira’s husband Bill passed away in 2022 and she is left with three wonderful adult sons and one grandson.
Aira Chilcott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aira-chilcott.html