One day I’m going to learn to shut the hell up. We’ll probably not but it sure makes for a good thought.
You see my granny is my only real confidant. She knows my travels before anyone else and was aware of my trip to Africa next year. Well when I called here for our weekly chat she launched into a tirade about Ebola. Long story short, my granny believes that the entire world is infected with Ebola outside the U.S.
Granny is an older woman. Sometimes she doesn’t get the entire story. Just the jist and headlines. And that’s part of the problem. The headlines and talking points are framing this “outbreak” in a way that’s misleading and totally irresponsible. From a journalistic standpoint that is. I’m sorry but i’m one of the few people that still believes news should tell the truth and nothing but the truth. No spin as they say.
Africa has been in my planning for years. I’ll be visiting several countries there in 2015. And simply put. Ebola doesn’t scare me one bit. And here’s why.
Africa is HUGE!!!
For some reason, and we can all guess why, American media seems to think Africa is a country. At least that’s the way media is portraying it. Sad but this has been going on since I was a child. All African nations get lumped into this Feed The Children, Hotel Rwanda, Elephant Poaching, caricature our media has made of Africa. In reality, Africa is a damn big place.
Here are the facts:
-THREE countries in Africa have widespread transmission. Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Nigeria and Spain have had single cases and the U.S. now two. All of these cases originated in the first three locations.
– Africa has 54 countries and is the second largest continent on the planet. AGAIN 54 different countries and 3 have an Ebola problem. With a landmass of over 30 million square kilometers, Africa is larger than the U.S., India, and China combined.
I was never planning to visit Guinea,Liberia, or Sierra Leone so my plans are largely unphased. We really need to stop treating Nigeria like Libya. Treating South Africa like Rwanda. Africa is a huge and diverse place. PLEASE understand and spread that.
Ebola is hard to catch outside of the optimum conditions
Despite the media coverage Ebola is still rare. And particularly difficult to catch. Especially in the first world. The idea that hygiene conditions, and basic healthcare infrastructure, in Liberia are comparable to Texas is laughable. Instead off me opining, read what experts, have to say about the transmission of Ebola.
Can Ebola spread by coughing? By sneezing?
“Unlike respiratory illnesses like measles or chickenpox, which can be transmitted by virus particles that remain suspended in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes, Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids of a person who has symptoms of Ebola disease. Although coughing and sneezing are not common symptoms of Ebola, if a symptomatic patient with Ebola coughs or sneezes on someone, and saliva or mucus come into contact with that person’s eyes, nose or mouth, these fluids may transmit the disease.
What does “direct contact” mean?
Direct contact means that body fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine, or feces) from an infected person (alive or dead) have touched someone’s eyes, nose, or mouth or an open cut, wound, or abrasion.“
Maybe I’m the only person but I have never come into contact with anyone’s blood, mucus, vomit, urine, or feces. Saliva……….welllllll………….. OK. No making out. I would get in other trouble for that. But I digress.
Settle down. The chances of catching Ebola are RARE. Very much so. The workers that caught Ebola were working with that man at his very most contagious. The head of the CDC has made it perfectly clear that unlike other diseases EBOLA IS NON CONTAGIOUS WHEN SYMPTOMS AREN’T PRESENT. Which is why, as of this posting, no one that flew with Amber Vinson (one of the infected nurses) has been diagnosed with Ebola. I choose to listen to the EXPERTS. The people whom have been trained and do this for a living. Not Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
Media Fear Mongering and Political Motives
I’m a Texan. After working in Texas politics I’ve become keenly aware of how politicians and citizens react to the media. Everything truly is bigger in Texas. Even the mass hysteria. I really don’t think there was a worse state for this to happen in.
So Erick, why would the media and U.S. government blow this out of proportion if there really isn’t much risk? We’ll I’m glad you asked. Let’s start with politics. President Obama is getting his ass kicked in approval ratings. And the top issue people have with his presidency is he doesn’t do anything (according to critics). Mid Term elections are less than a month away on November 4th. So the Republicans want to show that the Democrats aren’t doing anything to protect the country. The Democrats want to show decisive leadership. What it all amounts to is BS posturing and half thought out “plans”. Pretty much party politics as usual. Now our friends over at the media have their agendas as well.
NOTHING sells like fear. Not sex tape, budget crisis, or royal baby could ever compete with good old fashioned fear. The media knows that telling a half truth or using selective facts will keep viewers tuning in. And the more partisan the better. I’m no Liberal or Conservative but it sickens me the length some conservative pundits have go to during this situation to scare people.
I will applaud someone though. Shepard Smith at Fox News………….yes……FOX NEWS. His recent coverage was not only accurate and thought provoking but honest. A much needed critique on the shady and misguided Ebola coverage.
West vs the Rest. American Media Cycle Tricks
There are some very philanthropic people and organizations doing great work in Africa. Doctor’s without Borders. Water.org, and thewaterproject.org and good examples. But as a whole, we as American’s tend to not care about much outside the U.S. It’s not because we don’t care. It’s because our media and political machines have grown so damn big and corrupt people are blind to reality. It’s easy for us to be manipulated into othering Africa rather than facing the harsh realities of human suffering and pain.
Previously I wrote about America’s habit of othering. It’s gotten to a point where it’s part of our national identity. We are validated by it. And this Ebola “scare” has once again showed us how deep the fear runs.
It’s up to us who have an continue to travel the world to educate people. To show people what the world is truly like beyond our borders. And to be honest. It’s a whole lot more welcoming than back home.
Risk in Travel
I have a personal code when it comes to risk. “You have to die from something. Might as well be living”. People are so damn afraid of everything. This drives me crazy. Especially growing up in the U.S. Which is one of the reasons Americans don’t largely travel internationally. We’ve been programmed not to. After nearly three years on the road I can say that sure, travel can be risky. But no more risky than staying home. Especially in the U.S.
While traveling I have never been robbed, severely sick, or in an accident. In the U.S. I’ve been robbed four times and in two accidents. Not to mention the number of times I’ve had the flu or streep throat. I honestly feel less safe in the U.S. than I do in most “third world” countries.
I’m not saying carry a $5,000 camera into the Brazilian favelas. What I’m saying is, through preparation and due diligence travel, you can be safe and enjoy your travels. Part of the excitement of travel is the uncertainty and yes, danger. Putting yourself in a situation that you have limited knowledge and control over. Letting go of your safety line and experiencing everything life has to offer. The good and the bad.
I’m Not Missing Out
Africa has some of the most beautiful beaches, authentic cultures, and stunning landscapes in the world. Not to mention the unparalleled safaris. There is just no way I’m not going to experience these things. I plan to visit ten African nations next year to promote cultural engagement and exploration. Tourism and western interaction is needed to ensure basic healthcare, nutrition, and education are made available in some of the hardest hit countries by disease and famine. I for one am not buying into this rhetoric and will go to Africa as planned.