Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ebola: It's A Small World

It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small, small world

That is the refrain of one of the sweetest songs .  It conjures up images of pristine children in national costumes holding hands and singing cheerfully.  Each child singing with their own particular accent – we smile.  We will allude to the concept of a small world, when we find common connections between old and new friends.  But, let’s face it when a nation meets a disaster there is deep gratitude for the oceans that divide and make the world a bit further away

On Tuesday, September 16 President Obama pledged 3,000 troops to assist with the battle against Ebola in West Africa.  He declared that it was a threat to global security.  So many political pundits publicly called his action into question.  They didn't see the Ebola issue as an American issue.  ISIS (ISIL) was seen as a greater threat.  There is no doubt that ISIS (ISIL) is a massive threat to not just to the Middle East, but to our nation and Europe as well.  However, if we have learned one thing from ISIS (ISIL) that we could apply to the fight against Ebola, is that it would be in our best interest to not underestimate the threat. 

Fast forward to today, and my Facebook feed is flooded with articles updating us on each detail as the Ebola story out of Dallas unfolds.  There is fear, concern, and outrage.  Blame is being placed on Liberia, the airlines, the governments, the hospital, and the patient in peril.  Schools are getting decontaminated and a family is being quarantined.  For the next 21 days as the 80+ people who came into contact with Thomas Eric Duncan are monitored by the medical community – the media will be reporting each detail.  And there are many who are just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Since December of 2013, the continent of Africa has been fighting Ebola.  It started in Guinea, where as of today they have lost 710 citizens.  Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia combined have lost 3,300 lives.  We have had three Americans contract the disease and survive the disease.  And we all hope that Mr. Duncan and all those he came into contact with survive and go on to live a long life.

However, I hope that we now realize as Ebola has come to our nation, and that this world is small.  It is impossible for America to eradicate every evil from this world.  But, when an epidemic has gotten this large and has prevailed for so long – we had no choice but to offer the best we have to stand with our brothers and sisters as they fight to preserve life in Africa. 

It became clear in the inaction of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital medical staff, that there was a false sense of “it can’t happen here” when Thomas Eric was sent back home to his family.  After he had alerted them to his country of origin, it was just ignored.  There is a clear line of thinking that divides us.  There are “our” problems and there are “their” problems.  However, as we become more globally connected a greater understanding that all problems belong to all is imperative.  Indeed, we can’t fix them all. But, we can no longer live in such blissful isolation either. 

As the tsunami in Japan in March of 2011 occurred, I lied in bed just captivated and alarmed.  I could not fall asleep.  In the months to follow, we learned how small the world was when debris from that tsunami arrived on our west coast.  Citizens began cataloging the items online in hopes of returning them to their owners in Japan.  There is now growing concern in the U.S. about consuming fish from the Pacific due to contamination from Fukushima. Our world is small.

As the song “It’s a Small World” reminds us….

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears
It’s a world of hope, it’s a world of fear
There’s so much that we share
That it's time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all.

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