Is Ebola an African River or a Forest?

By: | November 8, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |
Sick person
“Is Ebola a river or a forest?” asked my fearful eleven-year-old students.  They were sick with worry.  Apparently, our current national panic had infected them.  “Fear is contagious, but it is not real.”  At least not according to actor/author Will Smith.  “It is a product of the thoughts you create,” he observed.  His message should come in very handy during the nation’s current Ebola scare.  Scare is an understatement.  The correct word is “hysteria”.Last week, President Obama urged Americans not to give in to the current Ebola panic.  At the time, three of our citizens had been diagnosed with Ebola: the doctor who ultimately died from it and nurses who treated him.  Since then, a nurse has been declared “Ebola free”.  However, instead of our national panic calming down, it has taken on new momentum.Will Smith went on to observe that “danger is very real”.  I maintain that is our reaction to Ebola that is dangerous, not the illness. History teaches us that fear is the evil.

Fear can kill.  Since being scared of differences is easier than to try and understand them, fear is, and has been, a common basis for prejudice. During the Crusades, Christians were confused by Jews dying in smaller numbers during the Bubonic Plague years, not realizing their penchant for cleanliness protected them from the pandemic.  Rather than make the choice to try and understand, Christian Europeans chose to murder Jews instead.  Fear is the enemy.
Fear exploits.  During the Northridge earthquake of 1994, scalpers sold Californians eight ounce water bottles for fourteen dollars preying on their fears of dirty water.

Fear affects the economy. Currently, people are clamoring to buy stock in the companies that are producing hazmat suits and a possible cure for Ebola.  A Connecticut company has been busy selling Ebola toys and apparently can’t keep them in stock the demand is so high. The demand for air travel must be taking a nose dive since one of my closest friends, and many others, are terrified of getting Ebola on airplanes.Fear affects our civil liberties.  Both New York and New Jersey started mandatory quarantines for anyone coming from an Ebola infected country.  KNX1070 reported this week that those already under lock and key were denied an ample amount of food.Fear affects our personalities.  The fiance of Ebola victim Eric Thomas Duncan has been dealt a double blow.  Not only has she lost the man she was to marry, but she lost her right to take up residence where she pleases since her potential neighbors are afraid of catching Ebola from her.  In addition to losing her fiance, she has become a pariah.  “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”, A Twilight Zone episode, has the only voice of reason in the program shout, “Let’s not be a mob,” when panic overcomes the residents of this formerly sleepy street.  Yet, it’s exactly that mob mentality that caused this girl to get rejected from her choice of home.In the last year, only one American has been killed by Ebola in contrast to more than half a million killed by heart disease.  According to President Obama, one would have to come into contact with the bodily fluids of an Ebola patient to contract the disease. This sounds like how AIDS and mononucleosis are contracted, but those diseases are not causing national panics.

“Don’t misunderstand me.  Danger is very real, but fear is a choice,”Will Smith went on to say.  I feel that Americans are inexplicably worried about Ebola when they should be trying to avoid a worse enemy–fear.

What are your opinions?  Is the current threat being overly magnified or do you feel our nation’s reactionis justified?  I look forward to reading your thoughts.

  1. Kassie

    Yes yes yes! I wrote a post on this topic myself. The quarantine idea is a ridiculous waste of money. People are freaking out that they will die from Ebola, but 50% of Americans won’t walk into their local pharmacy for a FREE flu shot! Even though over 10,000 of them will die this year from the flu. People are afraid of what they can’t control, but ironically they neglect what they can control. It makes no sense!

    • Janice Wald

      You are right; people are afraid of what they can’t control. It reminds me of the Bubonic Plague era. People attempted ludicrous “cures” that only made matters worse. Since I’m not hearing as much about Ebola this week in the news, I thought perhaps the frenzy was diminishing, but it made the cover of TIME Magazine so maybe not. Thanks again for writing. Janice

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