In some ways the world today is very small.
But it’s still big enough that we often ignore the things we don’t want to think about, even when we should be paying attention.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak is a perfect example.
Sure, it’s getting a lot of press now. There are cases in the United States now, after all. It’s starting to hit a bit closer to home.
But the average person you ask will likely not be able to tell you that the first reports about the outbreak began to surface in March – yes that long ago.
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone all had what were at least suspected cases by then.
Poor countries all, with less than ideal health infrastructures to deal with the outbreak.
Doctors from aid organizations almost immediately began trying to get people to listen to their assessments that these nations needed help, pronto, to stop the spread of the hemorrhagic fever.
There were a few stories in the western media, but all in all, in spite of the spectre the word Ebola usually conjures here, little was broadcast and even less was actually done. Compare, if you will, to the 24-seven coverage of Robin Williams’s suicide, for example. Not that that death and the way it happened didn’t raise legitimate discussion, but the discrepancy in word count is stark.
Were we just not that interested? Even when, as we’ve seen, all it takes is for someone to hop on a plane for the disease to spread?
Hundreds of Africans had already died before some foreign aid workers got sick and the story started to take on a bit higher profile.
Medical help for these countries is still desperately needed, as we now start to read accounts of Ebola clinic workers nursing patients without even the benefit of medical gloves.
This outbreak has infected and killed more people than all other Ebola outbreaks combined.
Here in the western world we pick and choose the world events with which we involve ourselves. We don’t always choose on the basis of which is the biggest crisis, or where we can be the most effective. Perhaps it’s a good time to re-examine our priorities, given just how small the world really is in 2014.
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