I was just appalled while reading a comment from a friend on social media. She had noticed comments from fellow countrymen, saying that people working for Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders in African countries are jeopardizing the health of us here, bringing Ebola back from areas with high infection rates.
Ok, we have a reason to be frightened that Ebola comes here. The infection does not disciminate, it will kill rich or poor alike. Although, we have medical care that might secure us any available medication, we have isolation measures, so the infection will most likely not spread with the rate it does in places where these measures are not available.
That being said (and we can count ourselves lucky!), do these people really believe that an infectious disease is only their problem?
I believe that we have built this country in solidarity. Over the years, we have chosen the politicians who wanted to build a system where we do pay a lot of taxes, but we also get free schooling, free healthcare, employment insurance for all, monetary support for people with diseases (disability), subsidiced childcare and subsidiced medicins. We are lucky to have a fairly good economy these days, when a lot of other countries struggle. But, instead of counting our blessings, and trying to help others if we can, I experience that more and more people are complaining about the taxes we pay, that some people get disability, that we help other and less fortunate countries. People are not more happy, we seem to be less happy. Wanting more, complaining more.
Seeing this from a larger perspective, we are constructed with a brain that will sense danger when we are threatened, and particularly when threatened by something we know that we can not defend ourselves from (like Ebola). We are wired like that in order to survive as a species.
Also, in order to survive, we depend on our “clan” for support and protection. As a result of that, we tend to be drawn to people who look like ourselves, because our subconsciouness tells us that that is our clan, our chance of survival.
In other parts of our brain, though, we develop empathy and reasonning. Experience and education will help us not merely to act on our survival instincts, but we will evaluate a situation and develop patterns of thoughts and even whole belief systems.
Unfortunately, we are, as a small country, not able to host, nor to help everybody. We are indeed in need of some boundaries on how much we can hep and who we can let in. Still, it is puzzling to me: our forefathers’ experience of working together in solidarity has taken us to a place where we are more fortunate than probably 95 per cent of the global population, and this leads to a reasonning where we can only protect our “own”? We seem to be doing quite the opposite of what has been working for us in the past.
I am also wondering where this will take us in the future. The more we gain, the less we think about others. This reminds me of – and now I am going to draw a controversial paralell, I am aware – what happens when some leaders have gained power, made a dictatorship, build up an empire with tremendous riches for themselves and as a paralell to that, think less and less of their peeers and start to treat them with hostility.
You might see this as an unfair parallell, and that is OK. But, I challenge you: think about it for a while!
I am fairly sure, though, that if this attitude persists, we can not count on solidarity from others when we are in a time of need. People travel, viruses do spread. Vaccines and medicines will be tested in Africa. Is it fair of us to expect that people in countries where the virus is prominent, test out medication and then give it to us? We can not count on our money, then, but only on our mutual sense of solidarity.