Saturday, October 25, 2014

This is How We Fight Ebola?

“Stupid is as stupid does.”
--Forrest Gump

I’d like to keep this blog professional, but I’m having a difficult time toning down my rhetoric while formulating a response to the idiotic move made by New York and New Jersey’s governors when they decided in their imminent wisdom to trump recommendations by experts at the CDC (who actually know a thing or two about Ebola) and enforce a mandatory three week quarantine for healthcare workers returning from West Africa.  

But then again, why should I be surprised? Sadly, the vast majority of our elected officials are, let’s just face it, plain stupid. And when people are afraid, they tend to act even more stupidly than they already are.

I will admit that on the surface this mandatory quarantine appears to make sense, but only on the surface. The clearly understandable and well-publicized arguments against such a quarantine are so strong and compelling that I find it shocking that Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie went ahead with their moronic policy. Didn’t they know that bloggers like me would lambaste them and share our disgust with all our friends on facebook and twitter?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with why their move is so imprudent, rash, foolish, asinine, and idiotic, I’ll be happy to explain.

First and foremost, the experts think a quarantine is a bad idea, and they’re pretty unanimous on this. This alone should be reason enough, but since it has become so hip not to trust our experts I’ll go ahead and explain why these generally intelligent and accomplished professionals say a mandatory quarantine will be counterproductive.

On one hand, the quarantine won’t add any significant protection over and above careful screening, self-monitoring, and rapid isolation following symptom identification. In fact, a rigid quarantine will make it more likely that individuals will try to cheat the system and bypass it altogether.

On the other hand, and this is probably the most compelling reason why the quarantine is such a bad idea, most healthcare professionals won’t want to try to cheat the system so they simply won’t go to West Africa if they know a trip will cost them an additional three weeks upon their return. We cannot afford to lose a single healthcare worker who is willing to help. What the world still hasn’t seemed to be able to grasp is that we need all the help we can get over there, and we need that help three months ago. Closing our boarders and sticking our heads in the sand isn’t going to make this problem go away. We need billions of dollars and an army of healthcare volunteers, and we need them now. We don’t need idiotic policies enacted by rash politicians who think they know better than everybody else.

So please, please, those of you with a voice, try to make your governors understand that their stupid actions might cost them an election. If they won’t listen to reason, they’ll certainly listen to that.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Confessions of a Prejudiced Evangelical Christian

When I was a kid, learning for the first time about our nation’s shameful history of slavery, I often wondered how I would have viewed that sordid institution had I been born a privileged son of a Southern plantation owner in the mid-nineteenth century. Would I have bought into the justifications taught by my slave-owning parents, my peers, my local government, and yes, even my church? Or would I have somehow managed to rise above those prejudices and recognize slavery for what it was: plain evil.

And what if I had been coming of age in Alabama in the early to mid-twentieth century--in the midst of Jim Crow Laws and segregation? What if my father and grandfather were both members of the Klan? What would I have thought about that? What side would I have been on? Would I have thrown rocks at the Freedom Riders? Would I have tried to stay out of the debate? Or would I have recognized a good and noble cause and joined the peaceful demonstrators?

I’ve always liked to think I would have come down on the right side of these great historical debates. I like to think I am able to recognize the correct path when it comes to justice versus injustice, right versus wrong, good versus evil. In fact, one of my greatest personal fears is that one day, when I am old and gray and hopefully much wiser, I will discover that I have been horribly mistaken about one of these issues—that I will have missed the mark and come down on the side of injustice or evil.

And this is why I need to make the following confessions.

I was born in the late twentieth century, and it breaks my heart to confess that because of my prior religious beliefs I was prejudiced against the gay community. I confess that I once strongly felt they should not be allowed to legally marry. I confess that I viewed their lifestyle as sinful, unholy, unbiblical, and unworthy of being welcomed into the Christian community. I am deeply sorry for my prejudices.

It is with great sadness that I watch this debate continue to rage as conservative Christians lash out against churches and organizations that support the gay community and try to welcome that community as they are. Not so long ago I was one of these Christians filled with righteous anger and fear. My journey from then to now has been refreshing and exhausting; simple and complicated; surprisingly easy and extremely difficult. But I have arrived at this moment and my hope and prayer is that others like me will manage to arrive here as well.

I will spare you the details of my personal journey, for it is long and complex, but I would like to describe more fully where here is.

Here is where love wins over religious dogma. Here is where I recognize the error of elevating texts written by people 2000 years ago above what I know to be ethically and morally wrong--that is to deny marriage equality to all.

Now that I have finally arrived here, I pray that my own confessions will stir some hearts and minds.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why Don't We Really Care About Ebola?

After the earthquake in Haiti, the American Red Cross raised $486 million. To date, it has only received $100,000 in individual donations to fight Ebola. 

The United Nations estimates we will need about a $1 billion to contain this outbreak.

Here is my question: Why don’t we care? And when I say we, I’m referring to those of us in the West. For months people in Africa have been dying. If we had cared, we could have responded in a concerted effort and we could have saved thousands of lives. If we cared now, we might still be able to pool our resources and stem the tide that will likely reach 1.4 million infected individuals in the next 4 months. But, apparently, we don’t really care yet. How do I know? Because my facebook page hasn’t been inundated with ice-bucket challenges trying to raise donations to fight Ebola.

So when will we start caring? When will the organizations on the front lines begin to see the five and ten dollar donations pouring in from the tens of millions of concerned Americans who may not have a ton of money but can at least spare a few bucks for a worthy cause?

And why is it taking so long? This is a question I’m afraid to explore. I think the art at the beginning of this post by AndrĂ© Carrilho, an illustrator and cartoonist based in Lisbon whose work has appeared in the New York Times, speaks volumes.

The time to act is yesterday.

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