As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say, I just watch what they do – Andrew Carnegie
When I started to write this post, I knew I wanted to talk about Ebola, because it’s all over the news and I have an opinion about everything… but the more and more I thought about the topic, I just became frustrated and really didn’t know what to say. I generally make over-generalizations in my posts, but to some extent there is a little truth and some exaggeration. But looking into how America historically handles crises, global problems with hints of ethnicity and race, I started to question whether or not these generalizations were just straight fact. I mean one thing that we really can agree on, is Americans didn’t care about the Ebola epidemic until one man, Thomas Eric Duncan lied on his questionnaire, and flew from Liberia into Dallas. We pretended to care when the prominent doctor, Dr. Kent Brantly, got sick, and they flew him to Emory, but that faded as well. Even though there was always a possibility that Ebola could make it’s way over to America, because in today’s world, we live in a global economy, our reality is an internationally connected ecosystem, so why we were not concerned sooner was baffling.
On July 23, 2014, “Doctors without Borders” identified that the Ebola was out of control, we thought we would be fine. (source). On August 8, 2014, the World Health Organization declares the Ebola outbreak a global public health emergency, by global, not us, right? (source). But seriously, August 8? It takes another month and a week for us to act, President Obama stepped in on September 16, and offered money and troops (source) and that was four days after Cuba had sent in doctors to assist with the epidemic. And on September 30, 2014, we got our first case of Ebola with Thomas Eric Duncan. *cue the attention of the American people*
Now as a disclaimer, am I by no means encouraging U.S. intervention in all humanitarian actions, and disasters, however, based on the acceleration of the disease, and how lives are so much more interconnected with global entities, why would we not act sooner even for our own sake. The social commentary isn’t so friendly, as summary of the ideas floating around in the interwebs:
- We (America) don’t care about Africa, we only care about oil rich countries
- We (Americans) only care about ourselves
- We (America, the world) like crisis, and hysteria
First thing that comes to my mind is whether or not we should be more concerned about the deaths that have occurred in Africa. As beautifully displayed, by the artwork of André Carrilho, an illustrator and cartoonist, “who chose to play up this disparity in an August illustration, drawn shortly after two white missionaries stricken with Ebola were admitted to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta”. (source)
Photo by André Carrilho – (Source)
Of course, it’s not surprising that Americans really didn’t care about the Ebola epidemic until his the states, but is that wrong? Even though I hear about hysteria going on surrounding Ebola, more Americans were in hysteria this past Sunday over another infectious incurable disease that caused and started the zombie apocalypse in the Walking Dead. Are we too self-absorbed? And is it wrong? Maybe not, caring outside of ourselves, is simply hard to do, we only have so much time in day, on top of our daily lives.
I think that is some of our reality, but we are talking about lives, with containment of the disease not necessarily near in sight, with a medical system in West Africa that has serious deficiencies. Yet, we’re consumed with worrying about the epidemic here, versus overseas, where over 4, 447 (as of October 15, 2014) have died from the disease and continue to pass away. (source). Our perspective is not okay. We as Americans have become isolationists, unless it directly effects us.
The first case of Ebola was believed to have been contracted on March 24, 2014. Over 4,000 people have died since, and our “hysteria” started just a little over two weeks ago. ( If you haven’t check out Shepard Smith’s serious rant about not “Listening to the Hysterical voices”, please do – Click here). When I think about our global economy and international connections, I think of Teddy Roosevelt, a true imperialist, who wanted to reach and expand the U.S. power across the globe. “His Belief was that America should be strong and ready to defend its interests around the world.” (source). We must be smarter about how we do that. Our interests cannot be one dimensional (money), okay, two-dimensional (terrorism).
I say all this not to inspire anyone into jumping on the next plane and fighting in the cause or giving your last penny. But not being aware of the world around in this international climate is astounding. As I write often, I love America. I love America a lot. But being an American doesn’t negate our responsibilities of being truly aware of what’s going on in the world. We love crisis, but we can’t only care or be concerned about our own crises. That is why we were not ready for Ebola, because at times we are too self- involved, if we had really had pay attention to the concerns of our brothers overseas, we might have seen the problem as it was coming over to America. I mean how is the most selfish nation not surprised, that someone would lie to try to save their life and come to America and bring Ebola? Because we were not paying attention to how bad it was becoming in West Africa. We were not paying attention to our international family. That is on us.