Fear is an insidious thing. Fear blinds us to reality and causes us to act in a rash and precipitous manner. Fear is capable of taking possession of an otherwise rational person. History is pockmarked with tragic events triggered by unreasoning fear.
In recent weeks we have witnessed the effects of fear brought about by the Ebola crisis. In Dallas, effective leadership, responsible community-wide cooperation and media coverage prevented a potentially volatile situation from developing.
Because of its sudden onset, the Ebola crisis caught us unprepared despite warnings from health authorities that its occurrence in the United States was inevitable. When we are caught unprepared, the pressure to take action immediately can, and often does, result in hasty and ill thought out decisions that can unintentionally escalate fear.
There is no front line in the war against Ebola as we have discovered, but international cooperation is essential in preventing the epidemic in West Africa from becoming a worldwide pandemic. We must recognize the heroism of those healthcare volunteers who are fighting there, as well as those working here, to contain this disease.
Ebola is not going away. This is a time for calm, compassion and consultation in developing a comprehensive strategy that will protect our citizens and healthcare workers without violating human rights and dignity.
We will do well to remember the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Image Credit: Mattia Notari on Flickr – https://flic.kr/p/hyiGYU