I started my new job this week, and things are definitely shaping up to be a whole new change of pace! I am still title-less, but the month of July is going to be filled with training, curriculum development, out of office visits and tonnes of learning. (AND VOTING. PLEASE. DID YOU DO IT YET? :)) It’s massively different than what I’m used to, and I must admit first day I was so overwhelmed and anxious about all the new responsibility I made myself physically sick and subsequently missed the next two days (I’m a winner, I know), but the nerves I think are finally subsiding a little. I’m thrilled to be part of a brand new project which is going to put me in a position that will not only push my boundaries (I’m going to be facilitating about 6 different modules – huge for the whole public speaking thing) but also put me in a position where I can really help people. One of the first things we were told was that the focus of this project was going to be not only helping the community, but empowering people – giving them tools and opportunities that will help them change their lives for the better. And that make me really proud. Along with teaching, I’m going to be doing some admin, some promotion and marketing, and toward the botttom end of the list – health and safety. Now, I may be a strange candidate for holding any portion of responsibility regarding other people’s safety or health (I think I made my stance on the government’s encouragement of mass vaccination quite clear during the H1N1 outbreak) – but thinking back to that got me thinking about the idea of what constitutes the idea of a pandemic – something which, when it comes down to it, causes widespread action in regards to something contagious.
When you hear the word, you automatically think of outbreaks of scary things like SARS, H1N1, Bird Flu… even the Bubonic Plague, and the masses subsequently running on something not too far from hysteria, having bought into the combination of newsreaders telling scary stories, but more accurately, fear. Fear is as contagious, if not more so, than whatever outbreak happens to be circling the newspapers. Did I know anyone in my city affected by any of these so-called pandemics? No, I knew a bunch of people who, upon the encouragement of lunchroom gossip and television sets, rushed to the nearest doctor’s office to have something injected into their bloodstream, or started wearing surgical face masks in the street. The fear of contamination was more contagious than the sickness itself. The word “pandemic” is defined as prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world; widespread over a large area; general; universal. So why are we conditioned to evoke a negative connotation in response to hearing it? If something like fear can become pandemic – why can’t something more positive take over the masses?
In short, it can. Think about fashion trends – throughout the ages people have seen someone famous do something different, and rushed out in efforts to imitate their style or attitude. This may not always be for the best (Crocs anyone?), but it’s a mass movement to copy something based on personal admiration. Health movements have also swept nations (just look at Atkins and Green Monsters), and people across the globe have dropped their current habits and adopted new ones in the hope of bettering themselves. Spiritual teachings on how to become a better person have been written in books and shot to the top of the national bestseller list, sparking a movement of positivity across book clubs, across friendships, and across the globe. An idea to make the world a better place can pop up in a single man’s head, and before you know it, it’s become an international project with people across the globe hopping on board, all hit by the contagiousness of spreading joy onto the lives of others. Movies like Julie and Julia can inspire nations to learn how to cook; shows like Glee can inspire thousands to sing.
And then there’s blogging. Since I started blogging properly, not even a year ago, I’ve been inspired by people around the world who’ve set goals for themselves, pushed their boundaries, and written about their endeavours to become stronger, healthier, better people. I’ve lost count of how many 101 in 1001s I’ve seen around the blogosphere and have been inspired by other people’s 30s before 30 to create my own list of goals, which inspires me to grow every single day. You could say it’s contagious – hundreds of people reading hundreds of posts about growth and empowerment causing a “pandemic” of positivity. I love it. How great would it be if next time we witnessed something bad spreading – fear, gossip, rumours or hatred – we chose to instead spread something else? Combat the contagiousness of negativity and be the turning point to instead disperse something better. No dictionary tells us pandemics need to be bad. It’s often easier to go along with the masses. The phenomenon of mass hysteria proves that the strength found in numbers can allow people to do things that would be considered insane if they did them solitarily. But we’re all capable of rising above what’s popular. We just have to practice prioritising, and thinking for ourselves.