As David left for work this morning I shouted, “Have a good day! Don’t catch ebola!” We both laughed but living in the suburbs of Dallas – ground zero for ebola in the United States – it is a weak laugh. Friends and family have asked if I’m worried and I suppose I’m less nervous than some, more than others. I work at a university with a heavy international population so I’m probably at a bit more risk than some but not as much as a nurse or health care provider.
The real problem though is the lack of truth. Depending on who, or where or what you read, the truth about ebola is ever changing and that is the problem. A problem that is infecting our democracy, our political system and our society.
If you think that the ebola outbreak is nothing to worry about then you could read this article in the New York Daily News, or this piece in the New York Times, or this article from Forbes news which clearly state that there are far larger threats than ebola and that we are all over reacting.
However, if you think ebola is a huge problem and that the CDC is doing a horribly botched job of handling it then I suggest this article from USA Today, which states that the situation is far worse than we can imagine or this article from Forbes (which counters their other article).
And it is this very moving target of absolute truth that is the scariest thing of all, because we have dissolved into a country not based on facts but on opinions. Even something as cut and dry as science has now become open to debate. With each citizen feeling the need to voice and defend their opinion there are no universal truths behind which we all stand. A friend recently told me that China will be the next super power because they have a billion people who all think and believe the same thing and Americans can’t even agree on what color the sky is.
We no longer watch the news, but instead gravitate to the information source that supports and justifies our already existing opinions. We don’t challenge our own thinking but instead look for ways to support it. This idea that we are all individually correct in our opinions and can point to an article to prove it does not make us well informed but instead makes us mindless sheep who fear everything that is new and different from ourselves and that is the most frightening thing of all.