You never know who might be infected. Everyone seems completely normal at first; totally capable of having fundamental human respect, dignity, and decency. You know, the elementary basics. But the infected unknowingly lurk within our midst, and they’ve become increasingly harder to identify. 

The pandemic has been around for ages, but it has intensified and disguised itself at an alarming rate among the present millennial culture; one in which is rapidly descending and spiraling into a bleak abyss of people unable to communicate simply and honestly.

Last night I spent time with the latest victim in my life to have been damaged by an infected person. I could feel my very heart howl with a piercing sting when she told me she was fine, because I knew for sure she wasn’t, and wouldn’t be for a long, long time. She was the fifth victim close to me in just the last six months, not including myself, to have suffered from the effects of the pandemic.

The pandemic is self-seeking, with a wide-range of versions but it always leaves the same scar on its victims. Some forms of the pandemic are cowardly, cold-hearted, purposefully unloving, or just plain fearful. However, nothing can justify the pandemic, because it’s not something that just “happens.” No one can “catch” this ailment, it’s something people actually choose. When someone you love and invest your time with for months and years abruptly leaves your life, you’re left baffled, confused, and questioning everything about them and the “love” they apparently had for you. In all of these cases there is no closure, no in-person talks, no careful consideration for the heart of the partner the other had “loved” but rather a cowardly vanishing that might hide behind a few vague texts or Facebook messages. What a disgusting way to live for those of us who still value the now nostalgic notion of authentic human interaction. Something that, prior to the Internet, used to be commonplace since the dawn of time until, under the guise of communication, AIM Instant Messenger ignited the “social” spiral toward the loss of genuine connection.

Those who choose to be infected with the pandemic make their victims question if they weren’t just selfishly out to devour their heart and move on to the next. What a terribly sad thing it is that someone could bring you to the point of questioning all of that. When did it become the norm to suddenly pick up and leave people alone in parking lots and drive away from them forever or “ghost” them via text and disappear out of their lives, break up over a text or the phone or gather their things and move across the country without saying goodbye? This is not and should never be a normal way to end a relationship. But why are victims continuously baffled, dumbfounded, and shocked by the behavior of those who choose to be infected with the pandemic when it’s become “the new norm?”

I think it’s because one thing links all victims. They tend to share common qualities of gentleness, respect, selflessness, compassion, consideration and affection. Those infected may display some of these characteristics, too, but then their sudden behavior of abandonment and in some cases, dishonesty, reveals the chosen infection.

What’s truly amazing is there’s a very simple cure for the pandemic. All of the humiliating absurdity of human contradiction can vanish like a pitiful mirage through one simple choice. There would be no such thing as “victims” if people simply chose to honestly communicate and give others respect, consideration, and loving dignity. There would still be hurt feelings and broken hearts, but there wouldn’t be crushed spirits, severed friendships, or permanent, irreconcilable damages. Choosing not to cowardly vanish but to provide in-person closure and honesty defeats the pandemic and leaves room for healing, maturity and forgiveness.

If there’s one bright spot in all of this it’s the fact that being a victim of the pandemic proves you yourself are not infected and are perhaps completely immune to ever becoming infected. To choose the cold-hearted, cowardly, selfish, fearful or unloving versions of the pandemic would be completely unnatural for you, and that alone is worth celebrating.

Victims know that relationships require selflessness and humility. They know that if you think you’re going to find complete happiness in one you’re asking for trouble. They know love is more than a feeling, but it’s a choice, and it’s hard work. Those who choose to embrace the pandemic want all of the rewards but none of the risk, all of the payout but none of the cost. Their wandering eyes tip-toe on the sidelines, never completely “all in.”

People who choose to be infected by the growing pandemic enter a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. But those who often turn out to be the pandemic’s victims know that the only way a relationship will last is if both parties see it as a place they’ve come to give.

But for the victims, there’s truly some good news. The best, most redeeming, exciting thing that can be imagined from the smashed up broken place the effects of the pandemic leaves you in is that something beautiful can emerge from that wreckage.

disciple | impractical daydreamer | creative writer | photographer

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