“Fear is contagious and so is courage” -Elizabeth Gilbert
I read this in an email from Tami Simon of Sounds True. Like all well-crafted guideposts that point to the one truth, it made me think. We as a society are very thoughtful about the people we surround ourselves with in regards to their disease state. We have PSAs about how to sneeze or cough in a crowd, we use hand sanitizer like modern-day armor and tell others to stay home if we hear they are sick. We do not want to catch the disease and we certainly don’t want someone spreading disease in our community. We recognize how disease and illness inhibit our productivity, impair physical and financial well-being, and just get in the way of our constitutional right to pursue happiness.
Yet are we as thoughtful about the internal state of those around us and the fact that this is also contagious? Have we as a society created a version of leper colonies wherein everyone in this group has the same fears? Those who are afraid of not being enough and so must “look” successful via a big house, expensive car, the mate who meets all the check-list wants? Are our leper colonies filled with others who support our illness to the point we pass the fear-sickness back and forth and strengthen it?
Or do we surround ourselves with those who have the courage to walk their own path thus encouraging others to do the same? Are the people around us supporting each other in finding unique ways to joy and contentment, are they able to truly connect on a heart and soul level, can we be different and still be connected? Do we spread the germ of fearless vulnerability and acceptance in our connections with the people in our community?
As we enter the season of (hopefully) connecting with our family and friends, perhaps we should take a good look at what our group has in common, what is the contagion, and make sure it is something we want to catch.