Contagious: Likely to spread to and affect others.

Many times when we go to the doctor’s office and are told we have this, that or the other thing, one of our first questions is “am I contagious?” Colds, flu, measles are at the top of the list.

But there are many other things that also can be considered contagious, at least to my way of thinking.

At the top of my list for contagious things is the yawn, whether it is caused by being tired or being bored. Let one person yawn, and before you know it, everyone in the room has their hand over their mouth, hoping no one is noticing that they, too, are yawning. Sometimes just thinking about yawning can trigger that reflex.

Running a close second is the spontaneous laughter of a baby or a very small child. We don’t have to know why the child is laughing; just hearing that joyful sound is enough to have us joining in the laughter. For Christmas we found a small plush monkey that had the realistic giggle of a child for my little 6-month-old great-nephew. Each time someone squeezed its hand, the monkey would giggle. And so would everyone in the room. The laughter was contagious.

Sadly, other things are contagious that are not as pleasant. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds at a sporting event for someone to start booing a player, a coach, a referee before everyone starts doing the same.

Any public gathering can be the same forum for taunting, booing, heckling and even violence. It all starts with one person.

Today we are seeing the contagious outbreak of a hatred in the United States like we’ve never seen before. It seems like every day someone else – usually a well-known personality or celebrity – jumps on the band wagon of spreading this hatred in our country. I have often wondered if they are doing it because that is truly how they feel (and if it is, that is so sad), or because they think it is the popular thing to say. Regardless, if this hatred continues to grow and spread throughout the country, there will be a price to pay, perhaps sooner than later.

On the flip side of that coin, there is a type of love that is also contagious. During the Christmas season three young boys in Summerville decided to collect cards for wounded veterans, and asked the community’s help. Hundreds of people caught the bug, so to speak, and the boys were able to send almost 2,100 cards to make Christmas just a little brighter for a bunch of wounded veterans.

About the same time the word got out in the DuBois/Reynoldsville area that a young boy, Maddox, was suffering from a rare form of cancer and had only a short time to live. Wanting his last Christmas to be special, Maddox asked for cards. His request quickly became contagious, as friends shared the request with their friends, and on it went. Maddox received the cards he wanted, and many times, much more.

None of us want to be affected by contagious things like cold and flu germs. I doubt if anyone that is helping spread this hatred in our country sees it as hatred, but as the right opinion to follow. Seeing the heckling, the taunting, the verbal abuse and other forms of hatred really doesn’t give us a warm fuzzy feeling; often it leaves us feeling cold on the inside.

But when we are affected by the laughter of a baby or the efforts of others who are really trying to help someone in need, it gives us a warm feeling for many days to come.

In a sense, we are are all contagious, in that things we say and do may affect others. Are they words and deeds of which we can be proud, or words and deeds that might bring shame to those we love? The choice is ours.

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Thought for the week — The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

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