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All That Spreads...

…isn’t necessarily bad. But much of what we think of spreading is. Gossip. Rumors. Lies. Panic. Hatred. Gang violence. Those are just a few of the human realities that can spread like wildfire and do tremendous damage. And then there are natural realities that also create havoc and harm like, well, wildfires. Mudslides. Fault lines. Viruses. Chemical spills. Smog. Walls and funnels of water. Blight. It’s true: much of what spreads isn’t good for the life on this planet.

But all that spreads isn’t necessarily bad. The idea behind the “pay it forward” concept (which has been around for a long time but garnered a lot of attention with the release of the movie by that name) is to make a difference for the better through “random acts of kindness” (yet another well-known crusade). If we’ve ever experienced the surprise of pulling up to the pick-up window of a fast-food restaurant and learning that the person in the vehicle ahead of us paid for our meal, we know what it’s like to be unexpectedly overwhelmed by joy. And we might be inclined to do the same for someone else because the kindness spread and took root in us.

The challenge is, of course, that the rotten, destructive stuff gets a lot of press. And because it seems to be ever in front of us, it tends to take up more space in our heads and hearts. It can lead us to believe that there’s no hope of really making any significant difference for the better in our world. Such hopelessness brings its cousin, apathy, along for the ride. The next thing we know, if we’re not sitting on our hands doing nothing, we’re wringing them in anxious despair.

Is there any remedy? Are we strong enough to stop gossip, lies, and rumors in their gritty tracks? Are we compassionate enough to support efforts to loosen the clamps of bullying, racism, sexism, and ageism? Are we dedicated enough to keep on keeping on with campaigns of kindness, joy, respect, and grace in the face of seeming lack of success? Are we faithful enough to remain standing in the armor of love as the forces of hatred launch their vicious, futile attacks?

All that spreads is not destructive and harmful. But it sometimes appears that that’s the stuff with the upper hand. But we collectively can turn back the oily tides. We will be part of the remedy if we refuse to let hopelessness and apathy take up residence in our heads and hearts. Might not be as easy as spreading icing on a cake but the results will be even more satisfying for all!

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