Choosing reason over panic

September 11th, 2014



Several weeks ago, I was perusing my Facebook feed and saw one of my friends had posted a status regarding the recent Ebola outbreak. He stated the American government made a thoughtless decision to allow Ebola survivors Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol back into the United States and if the outbreak continues, the American government should consider dropping nuclear bombs on the entire African continent. Many other people posted responses agreeing with my friend’s remarks.


At the time, I decided to bite my tongue rather than engaging in an argument with people who, in my opinion, stated such irrational and ignorant opinions.


I understand the fear of such a deadly disease, but the idea of our government abandoning two of its citizens and destroying an entire continent absolutely stunned me. That said, as I’ve followed news of the outbreak and the seemingly miraculous recovery of Brantly and Writebol, I have continued to think about my friend’s remarks.


Before they fell ill, Brantly and Writebol were both working as missionaries for Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization sent to build a new hospital in Liberia. They worked to contain the virus as it spread and Brantly helped to keep patients comfortable as many of them died excruciating deaths.


As someone who attends a Jesuit university, if that is not an absolute embodiment of men and women working for others, I am not sure what is.


After both were infected, they returned to the United States to remain in quarantine while receiving treatment. Meanwhile, many Americans voiced their fear of an epidemic hitting the U.S. As this continued, I saw more comments and blog posts where people said the best preventative measure would be to bomb Africa altogether.


I had to ask myself, ‘How could such a large amount of people come to have such a destructive point of view?’


Brantly and Writebol have reportedly recovered and a third American is currently receiving treatment in quarantine. It is extremely improbable that the U.S. will face an ebola epidemic. Rather, what we are truly suffering from is an epidemic of fear.


While it is perfectly sound to be concerned about the spread of Ebola overseas, please think before subscribing to the panicked remarks of others concerning a supposed “inevitable” outbreak. Panic breeds panic. Rather than buying into the irrationality of your Facebook friends, educate yourself.


The spread of Ebola cannot be vanquiched overnight. However, the spread of panic can be controlled with common sense and continued critical thinking.