Thursday, October 08, 2015

I bring you good news. Really.

The older I get, the more I am convinced that we humans manage to get a few things right despite our own efforts to mess up the world.  Imagine then how wonderful the world could be if only we got our act together!

Today's exhibit: Ebola.

Remember how manically I was blogging about Ebola, Facebooking about Ebola, and tweeting about Ebola?  When the crisis unfolded, I was shocked, disappointed, and angry that most of the world--especially the United States--was not worrying about it.  Even when Doctors Without Borders kept issuing those reports, we responded with a only collective yawn.

In case you got worked up about all that, here is an update:
The three West African countries at the heart of an Ebola epidemic recorded their first week with no new cases since the outbreak was declared in March 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
The U.N. agency said that more than 11,000 people have died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the world's worst known occurrence of Ebola, but there were no new cases in the week to Oct. 4.
First, a sense of relief. Phew!  And then a feeling of "can we celebrate now?"
New cases of Ebola have dwindled sharply this year, but WHO said there was still a risk of resurgence.
"Over 500 contacts remain under follow-up in Guinea, and several high-risk contacts associated with active and recently active chains of transmission in Guinea and Sierra Leone have been lost to follow-up," the report said.
“There remains a near-term risk of further cases,” the report added.
Let us see how we humans deal with "a risk of resurgence."  I am guessing we will screw it up, like we always seem to do.  But, for now, a victory, yes.

The New York Times "had more than a dozen reporters, photographers and videographers inside the Ebola zone in West Africa over the course of the epidemic" and two of them speak about their experiences.  One says:
As reporters, we needed to remain resilient ourselves. The virus was all around us but remained unseen. We were constantly under threat. We would cover our bodies and equipment in protective gear and constantly wash them off with chlorine and disinfectant spray to kill the virus. Each day was an exercise in extreme caution, and each night we would nervously go to sleep hoping we had done everything right.
However, in the midst of all the darkness of these situations is the most powerful story to be told: the human ability to remain resilient. Hope is an infectious power in times of pain. Telling the story of Ebola’s spread helps people on the other side of the world connect with these abstract feelings of suffering. It helps to bring us all together.
Yes, those "abstract feelings of suffering."  To empathize with somebody, in a country somewhere, suffering from a problem that we cannot even imagine, brings us all together.  Imagine how much good we can achieve if we can truly connect with people this way, instead of being the selfish, nasty, brutish, and short humans that we typically tend to be!

There is hope, yes.  Even when we bomb the shit out of Doctors Without Borders operating in yet another crisis.

2 comments:

Ramesh said...

Against disease, humanity seems to put its best foot forward. Time and again, we have done wonders when fighting a particular scourge.

The bombing on the MSF hospital in Afghanistan deserves a lot more condemnation than just the last few words. Its a crime; full stop. Unfortunately nobody will pay for that crime.

Sriram Khé said...

It is terrible. Atrocious. I agree with you that at best it will be a gentle slap on the wrist as the punishment. "collateral damage" of war bullshit will be the explanation, along with a few hundred thousand dollars of "compensation" to the families.
We humans are idiots!

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