As an epidemic has killed 5,165 in West Africa and has only claimed two lives here in the United States, why does our focus remain on America, on ourselves, when we should be figuring out ways to help other developing nations around the world?
Is it wrong for the people of the U.S. to only take an interest in the needs of our country?
“People tend to respond more to illustrations that have a point of view on issues that relate to their lives and their opinions,” said André Carrilho, an illustrator and cartoonist.
He is right.
Why would we as Americans view sick or dying people on other continents as anything other than another statistic on paper?
We are a show-me world, we need things to be before our eyes and be seen as a potential threat to us personally before we take action.
The sad thing is that Ebola has been a threat to the world since 1976 and has been an even more imminent threat since its most recent outbreak, that started in the beginning of 2014.
However, according to data from Google Trends, which shows popularity in news data, the entire world only found Ebola important as of the first week of August.
This coincided with the arrival of the first two Ebola cases, involving two U.S. missionaries.
The trend on Twitter followed the same exact pattern.
This is where the notion of “The West vs. the Rest” comes into play.
What exactly does that mean?
It is the idea that people of the western culture largely care about themselves and focus on self absorbency.
This is the concept that our country is pure and impenetrable and others are not.
The idea that an epidemic may happen to us is impossible but it is not impossible for other countries to be susceptible to such disaster.
Poverty and social issues have shaped the world in such a way as to make some Western countries more important than others.
The biggest contributor to the hysteria of the Ebola outbreak is the media.
Most of the media coverage over Ebola has focused on the United States.
The U.S. is not the only country that has been affected by Ebola.
In Spain there was a case where a nurse’s aid contracted Ebola but survived.
This shows that with proper recognition, containment and treatment Ebola can be stopped.
Unfortunately, Third World countries aren’t able to have such efficient means of containment.
Ken Silverstein, an award-winning journalist, said in his book, “Many people, most of them in tropical countries of the Third World, die of preventable, curable diseases. … Malaria, tuberculosis, acute lower-respiratory infections — in 1998, these claimed 6.1 million lives. People died because the drugs to treat those illnesses are nonexistent or are no longer effective. They died because it doesn’t pay to keep them alive.”
Because of the intense poverty of some Third World countries, health care and health education are slowly depreciating and will soon become non-existent, if they are not already.
As Americans, we tend to lay in our safe little bubble of clean water and available health care and we care nothing for the misfortunes of those we share this planet with.
We watch news segments on acts of terrorism and wonder how people could be so heartless to kill innocent people, but when commercials come on asking us to give money to a starving child in a foreign country, we mute the volume and make a sandwich.
We have the opportunity as a country with limitless resources, to be selfless.
Even though they can’t always be seen, those other countries have people and families who are dying because they weren’t privileged enough to have been born in the U.S.
Big pharmaceutical companies have been deciding for years that Third World countries aren’t worth the money, Third World citizens are too unimportant to bat an eyelash at.
But what if it was you?