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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebolamania

I'm not one to buy into mass hysteria.

I've never lost sleep worrying that aliens were going to abduct me, or that I would receive an anthrax-laced letter, or a package in the mail with a return address of "Unabomber." I don't have an irrational fear of Obamacare death panels, or a globalized one-world government designed to subvert our Constitution, or the infiltration of Federal government agencies by the Muslim Brotherhood.

I don't believe Amazon is continuously conniving to find ways of keeping the 37 cents in royalties I make on book sales each month, and I don't think McDonalds is doing anything more disgusting to its meat than any maker of ground meat products has been doing for centuries -- ever hear of blood sausage?

Then there's the newest scare, the Ebola epidemic, the edge of which we presently stand so precariously close to we find it necessary to have the TSA taking temperatures of passengers arriving on international flights. I'm sure that process is being handled with the same efficiency TSA employs at all other stages of the screening process. (If they used a rectal thermometer, they could speed things up by taking temperatures and performing cavity searches at the same time. Sounds like good multi-tasking to me.) And Fox so-called News pundits are even calling for shutting down our borders until we all feel safe again, which is ridiculous. So long as middle-aged, overweight French-Canadians wearing Speedos continue to swarm the beaches of upstate New York every summer, I'll never feel safe.

You see, as horrible as Ebola is, it's just one more thing in a long line of things that could, under the proper circumstances, kill me. There were roughly 16,000 homicides in the United States last year, roughly 35,000 car crash fatalities, and roughly 580,000 cancer-related deaths. Even the common flu kills tens of thousands -- in some years hundreds of thousands -- of people worldwide, so Ebola is going to have to kick things up a notch for me to start sizing my kids for HazMat suits.

Under current conditions, I stand as much chance of contracting Ebola as I do of being struck by lightning while a shark bites off my leg in a crashing airplane in the middle of a hurricane.

But this kind of thinking doesn't offer any solace to those who are overdue for a really good panic attack over something beyond their control. Our culture has been conditioned to live in dread of the outside world for so long that we simply don't know what to do with ourselves if there isn't some great bogeyman sneaking around to fear. And what makes Ebola a really meaty candidate for mass hysteria is that there's no conspiracy theory needed to get the public all riled up about it. It's a contagious disease, pure and simple, and because one person has died and another has contracted the disease, we now have to shutter the windows and bolt the doors until the big bad virus goes away.

Well, I will have none of it, thank you very much. 

While I won't do anything silly to place myself in a precarious position -- such as, say, plan a nice holiday vacation to Liberia or Sierra Leone -- I refuse to live in fear. I will, however, avoid blood sausage, but who could blame me for that?



© 2014 Mark Feggeler