Not long ago, here in American, there was a lot of talk in the news about Ebola. Not a little fear spread around. A number of countries barred their borders to persons traveling from West Africa. While the U.S. President did not, responding to public pressure, some American States’ Governors did. Some news outlets, at least that’s what they call themselves, tried unsuccessfully to bring the pot of fear to full-boil panic. That’s all changed. While certainly other newsworthy events have pushed to the media’s “front page,” a Presidential appointee, Ron Klain, Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief-of staff, was appointed to coordinate the Ebola response. Perhaps through his doing, mention of Ebola is nearly wiped from the media’s collective attention. This is certainly keeping panic down. The epidemic, however, was far from over. America fell into the “Hear no Evil” mode. The World Health Organization released newly consolidated data early last December, saying that 16,169 cases of Ebola had been reported, with almost 7,000 people dying. The three countries most affected by the outbreak are Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. While certainly that’s tragic, it hasn’t made it to the quarter million as some sources predicted. Within a month, another four thousand cases of Ebola had been officially reported, bringing the total to over twenty thousand. And still we Americans went merrily along not knowing the true nature of this epidemic.
“For more than a year, Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone have been experiencing the largest and most complex outbreak of Ebola in history. Cases continue to be reported in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the end of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia on May 9, 2015, meaning that 42 days (two incubation periods) had passed since the last Ebola patient was buried. The health system in Liberia continues to monitor for new cases and to take precautions to prevent transmission in the country. CDC is also closely monitoring the situation and will update information and advice for travelers as needed.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported.
So Guinea and Sierra Leone continue with the outbreak. American public health personnel continue to travel for short tours of duty to Sierra Leone. And Americans continue business as usual. Well, not quite. There’s something new on the horizon that is a continuation of the racial divide in Ferguson, MO. The news focus is about bad police officers (white police officers) and their racism and violence toward black people. Racial tension seems higher now that it was fifty years ago. More things for which we are to be fearful. Fear is a useful tool.
Crisis breeds fear; unchecked fear leads to panic, which results in lawlessness. But crisis makes for news. So it seems that we move from one story to another, one fear to another, and remain just fearful enough but never so much as to panic. Why would anyone want to incite fear? I don’t seriously think the media in general wants to incite fear; it is simply a byproduct of crisis, which sells papers, attracts viewers. Perhaps there are others, however, that find a crisis, and resulting fear, useful. American politician Rahm Emanuel is reported to have said: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”(1)
While the reporting of police violence is a central component of the news cycle, it seems clear that the one of the greatest crisis in America during this century is the act of war against America by Islamic forces. These forces destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, part of the Pentagon, and four passenger airplanes. One might argue that this act sparked the beginning of WWIII. Out of that crisis was born the Homeland Security Agency. This was a response to what was perceived as a lack of coordination between various law enforcement agencies in the United States, and the lack of a national command structure to oversee both domestic and international interventions. Another response to the attack was the PATRIOT act. “the PATRIOT Act is an Act of Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. The title of the act is a ten-letter ackronym (USA PATRIOT) that stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. On May 26, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, a four-year extension of three key provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act: roving wiretaps, searches of business records (the “library records provision”), and conducting surveillance of “lone wolves”—individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorist groups.” (2) The argument has been made that the PATRIOT Act allows the government to set aside the American Constitution in order to fight an undeclared war, a war on terrorism committed by groups and individuals rather than nations. Fear of terror, additional acts of terror, enable implementation of PATRIOT Act activities on broad scales within America, and are used to forge America’s international response to perceived threats around the world.
For the PATRIOT act, and its sweeping away of Constitutional protections, America must constantly face new and ever-greater threats to its national security. Its a vicious cycle fed by fear. We fear an enemy, whether a nation, a group, or one person acting alone, or a disease. Our fear paralyses us. We accept measures that will make us feel safe, not considering the effects. Appeasement. We are willing do give up our own personal liberty to feel safe from a perceived threat.
And all the while, we are being led to believe we can no longer trust our police officers. The underlying message brought to us is that They are not serving and protecting us. Some “conspiracy” theories say that Americans are being led toward a massive federal take over of law enforcement duties. Some “conspiracy” theories say we are being led toward a massive civil war.
So, back to ebola. It’s still going on. It’s not dead yet. All that needs to happen is to announce a new case in the United States, brought back by health workers, perhaps. The news establishment doesn’t need to start a new crisis to get attention—just recycle an old one. Doing so helps cool the on-going crisis, distracting the public. Distracting us? Yes, distracting us from another, eminent crisis. But wait. What else is going on in the news at the moment? How about hackers? We seem to be having a lot of breaches of information that is contained on computer servers, both commercial as well as government.
It’s a bit like a magic show. The magician distracts our attention to the left while he does something on his left, and then to the right as he does something on his right. Eventually, when all is set up, the magician springs the trap. So, what’s the finale? I suppose it will be a financial crisis. Perhaps hackers cause the banks to close up shop. Perhaps “Wall Street” will ring the bell early one day. People have spoken about the potential of a financial-system collapse looming over us.
But enough gloom and doom. Let us rise above the fear. Let us not look for solutions here or there or in any human form or agency. And whatever you do, don’t sign a loyalty oath. Be loyal to our Father in Heaven and His Son our only Savior. Let us remember the words G-d breathed to His servants long ago:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1,2)