Opinion: Curing our current plague

James Trice lives in Concord.

The dictionary definition of plague is a contagious bacterial disease characterized by fever and delirium associated with inflamed, swollen lymph nodes, (coined “buboes” during the bubonic plague many centuries ago). The recent COVID pandemic might be considered a type of plague even though it’s viral rather than bacterial.

Interestingly, the Merriam-Webster thesaurus cites over 100 synonyms for plague. The one I like best is “disastrous evil or affliction.”

I propose that there is a noninfectious (though highly infiltrative) nationwide plague that we have been suffering from for at least the last 20 years which I will label as the “me, myself and I” syndrome.

The overriding characteristic of this syndrome is “I will live by the credo that I will do whatever I want whenever I want no matter the consequences to our country, the environment or the rest of the world.”

There are some prominent examples.

In the corporate world, CEOs and corporate officers that are paid multimillion-dollar salaries in addition to stock options, and shareholders that are highly rewarded while the workers are paid by the hour with little or no recognition or appreciation and minimal additional financial compensation.

In the world of finance, packaging and selling at massive profits debt instruments such as CDO’s (remember the financial crisis?) with the Wall Street fat cats padding their bank accounts while the rest of us on main street take it on the chin when the house of cards comes tumbling down.

In the political arena, promoting and supporting policies that benefit a small segment of the population while either directly or indirectly disadvantaging or even harming the rest of us or policies and programs designed by a particular political group with the primary (if not exclusive) aim of consolidating and increasing power.

Culturally, being intolerant or abusive to people of different ethnic groups, races, skin color or socioeconomic status than ourselves. And business concerns that pursue profits no matter what the adverse consequences to the environment.

I could list others, but you get the point.

Having a “me first” approach to life is, at the very least, selfish, and at the worst also ignorant (there is only one way to live) and arrogant (it’s my way or the highway).

There are over 7 billion people on earth and over 300 million in the US We need to enlarge our perspective and see things through a wide-angle lens by accepting, appreciating, and celebrating others. If we do we will all benefit.

Remember the tale of Narcissus? The Greek hunter whose beauty was renowned and who, after seeing his reflection in a pool of water, fell in love with himself and spurned all romantic advances of others staring at his reflection for the rest of his days?

The message is this. We all, myself included, need to beware of the trap of vanity and self-adoration. Let’s live more inclusively and reject the “me, myself and I” narcissistic approach to life. This could be the cure for our current plague.

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