The television news reporter was interviewing a woman near my age protesting her state’s shelter in place order. Without a mask, standing about two feet away from another unmasked protester, she hatefully spewed into the camera, “I don’t care if I get sick, I will live!”

My first reaction was, “Yeah, but what about your best friend, or your sister, or your child?” My second thought was, “How selfish!” After that, I turned to my husband, remarking, “What is wrong with people?”

All of us have a selfish streak because, after all, we are human. None of us are perfect, and I promise you I need several boxes of Band-Aids to cover my warts and scars of imperfection! I can be selfish, needy, argumentative, and have been known to throw a tantrum or ten. But would I knowingly, physically put another in harm’s way? I pray, never!

Our selfish ways have created a firestorm of evil. Mr. COVID-19 loves and desires us to be self-centered. Would it not be wonderful to be able to kill our narcissistic behavior with hand sanitizer? However, sanitizer will never clean our hearts; only goodness, kindness, and God can purify our messy souls.

There is a message that is trying to be heard. A statement that is attempting to become a lead story or become bold headlines in the paper, but the writer remains eerily quiet. His work is only available in his book, and even though his words are free, we often ignore the significance of each sentence. And that is what is wrong with all of us.

We turn on the news, and some folks choose to watch it all day. I personally believe that is not healthy and can mess with the mind, but to each his own. However, a more meaningful message can be lost in the divisive noises. And essential words that need to be heard are put aside.

“Do nothing after selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:3. “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:24. “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:13

Do we follow those powerful words? Do we love others as we should? When we see the doctors and nurses putting their lives on the line to battle a disease, are they showing us the meaning of the Bible’s messages? Of course. When we see soldiers rush to defend our country, knowing their lives could end, are they exemplifying loving others? Of course.

Lately, as we all deal with this pandemic, how many folks have you seen who did not care to wear a mask and did not practice social distancing? You may say, “Well, that is their right.” However, perhaps, we can and do misuse our rights. Sometimes, our rights get in the way of living correctly.

When we become so ensconced in our doctrines that they prevent us from clearly seeing how it affects others, then we must analyze how our words and deeds can harm or kill.

I am not trying to be preachy (maybe just a little), but we might need to be reminded that sickness comes in all forms. Sometimes illness comes from a virus and sometimes it is caused by our hearts. We need a vaccine for the virus, but for our hearts to be cured, we need love.

Before we spew hatred, or before we spread disease, and before our selfishness can raise its ugly head, pause, hear the messages from God. They are loud and clear if only you turn off the noise long enough to listen.

We can walk away from this pandemic with more dignity than we had before if we choose to please God rather than ourselves. If we decide to listen to the greater message and apply it to our hearts, then we could defeat the selfish behavior that is as much of a plague as COVID-19.

So, when you witness a person with unmasked selfishness walk in front of protected you, give them a piece of paper with one of the three Bible verses and say, “I wish you well.”

Who knows, you may help heal the illness in their hearts.

Lynn Gendusa of Roswell is the author of “It’s All Write with Me!” Essays from my heart. She can be reached at www.lynngendusa.com.

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