We are all aware of the Ebola tragedy that is striking the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea with close to 5,000 deaths and 13,000 reported cases.
The tragedy is not just in the number of people who have been inflicted and those that have died from this horrible disease. Equally disturbing is the response of the Western World – those that have the capability to profoundly alter the course of the disease. The headlines of papers across North America look something like this:
- A Maine elementary school teacher has been barred from school after visiting Dallas, Texas where Ebola patients have been treated – despite having had no contact with any suspected patients.
- A teacher was placed on mandatory 21 day leave after going to an educational conference and staying 10 miles away from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
- A rumour at a school in Mississippi was passed around that the Principal had, at one time, travelled to Nigeria. Swarms of parents removed their children from the school.
More recently states have imposed sanctions against health care workers – returning from helping those in the stricken countries. At odds with the World Health Organization, Canada has suspended the issuance of visas for residents and nationals of the West African countries. Permanent resident applications from the affected countries have been suspended.
A global tragedy has been wrapped in an abundance of politics and fear. It seems that Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s comment, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself,” is most appropriate. Delivered at his inauguration in the midst of the Great Depression, Roosevelt went on to say, “Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for…We now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we cannot merely take but we must give as well.”
Our world is even more interconnected now than it was for any generation before us and we have the resources to give. The focus of our attention should be on helping countries by providing the expertise, resources, and commitment to stop the spread of the disease. When we have a flu bug that descends on schools we model for our students the care and support needed for those who are ill. Why have we reacted like this is a zombie apocalypse?
Our children would not be proud of us.