Wednesday, October 22, 2014

5 Way Churches Can Help Stop Ebola Hysteria - Tom Ehrich in Sojo

 Our society's worst instincts, as always, are to blame those portrayed as being "other," to imagine barriers and travel bans that would protect us, and to turn against each other.   Such nonsense plays well in an election year, at least with a certain portion of the electorate.

Similar instincts served us poorly after 9/11, during various Red Scares, with the migrant children refugee crisis, during the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII and countless other instances. They are like a child’s instinct to hide under a bed: We crouch in fear without thinking first.

Many of our current legislative leaders have little instinct for leadership. They've been willing to harvest votes among the fearful by stoking their fears. All but the most responsible media have joined them in sowing misinformation and fear.

Let’s imagine a better scenario, perhaps even one that faithful people could help to bring about.

1) No cheap blaming.  God isn’t causing this virus to spread through western Africa as some sort of punishment for the people there, or to come to these shores as some punishment of us. Diseases happen, and they spread through a combination of bad luck, human error and ignorance

2) Avoid the hysteria.  Turning to our most primal, base and reflexive instincts is an unreliable way to make good decisions.  We should think critically about who is saying what for what reason.

3) Get informed.  We need to be able to provide useful guidance to children and the vulnerable and take appropriate precautions within our sphere of care and influence.

4) Identify who needs help.  We need to look outside our walls to see who needs help. Beyond family, beyond church, beyond our community — where is help needed, who is already involved, and how can we partner with our support them?

5) Prepare to stand against forces of fear.  We need to muster our personal and spiritual resources and find the courage to face something largely beyond our control. If the Ebola virus breaks out of current containment measures and spreads into the general population, our communities will require people with mature judgment and the courage to stand against the legions of fear.

The full article is available here