“Evil thoughts and aims reach no farther and do no more harm than one’s belief permits. Evil thoughts, lusts, and malicious purposes cannot go forth, like wandering pollen, from one human mind to another, finding unsuspected lodgment, if virtue and truth build a strong defence.”
— Mary Baker Eddy
When I was in grade school, a popular playground game involved one kid announcing that another kid had “cooties.” The only cure for cooties was to give them to somebody else, which required touching another person. Players could avoid infestation either by running faster than the designated Typhoid Mary or — if cornered — by crossing their fingers and shouting, “Shocks and shields!” (which guaranteed immunity from cooties) just before being tagged.
Day in and day out, I encounter people online who seem to be infested with mental cooties: anger, hatred, dishonesty, ignorance, even paranoia. And like my classmates, these individuals seem to think that the best way to get rid of their cooties is to give them to someone else — so they go out of their way to say hateful, dishonest, or irrational things (sometimes all of the above) in an attempt to get others to think as they do.
Trouble is, the playground rules don’t work so well with mental cooties. I’ve never seen any evidence that people felt better after infesting someone else with mental cooties. If anything, they got worse.
Rather than trying to outrun such people, I’m learning to fill my thought with virtue, truth, and love — the metaphysical equivalent of the ol’ shocks-and-shields routine — to ensure that the cooties of fear, anger, and hatred can’t find “unsuspected lodgment.”
Such immunity protects me from the discomfort of error, and it puts me in a better position to help heal others of their imagined cooties.