Imagine taking a routine trip and two weeks later you are dead. This is exactly what happened to Thomas Eric Duncan because his routine trip was to Africa, center of the Ebola outbreak. Because of ignorance, confusion, and mis-information, Mr. Duncan caught a deadly virus in a world that is not sufficiently prepared to prevent its spread. Plato explores this tendency for society to react in the face of new situations. The different parts of “The Allegory of the Cave” can easily be compared to the world’s response to the current Ebola crisis in Africa. Almost everyday you hear something in the news pertaining to Ebola, “a disease that could possibly alter history as much as any plague has ever done” (Osterholm, Michael T. ).
Ebola, which is currently an epidemic disease in West Africa, could very well become a pandemic disease affecting the whole world. Yet many people are being misled into believing the situation, for the most part, is contained and under control. “What is not being said publicly, despite briefings and discussions in the inner circles of the world’s public health agencies, is that we are in totally uncharted waters and that Mother Nature is the only force in charge of the crisis at this time” (Osterholm, Michael T. ).
Based off Plato’s theory, regarding human perception in “The Allegory of The Cave,” the citizens of the United States are acting as though they are the prisoners who are trapped in the cave and chained down perceiving the images put in front of them as being true. They see the shadows demonstrating that the disease is contained and the situation is under control, however they are truly clueless to the fact that we are unable to be completely prepared if the disease continues to spread throughout various countries. We are especially unprepared if the disease mutates and becomestran smittable through the air instead of just by blood and bodily fluids as it currently is.
With the first reported case of this outbreak being this past March, Ebola’s current number of human reported cases is 5,481 with a reported number of 2,946 deaths (“Outbreaks Chronology: Ebola Virus Disease”). That means over half of the people who contracted the disease have died from it. Although the majority of the cases are arising in West Africa, the United States and its citizens are not doing much to prevent this potential pandemic. They feel as though because this tragic disease is not spreading in our country and killing thousands of our people it is nothing major to worry about.
Ebola is much easier to control in isolated areas, and although it has already spread throughout West Africa we can still help contain the outbreak. The citizens of the United States need to realize that what is happening in West Africa could potentially happen here. We need to stop acting as though we are clueless prisoners trapped in a cave and chained down perceiving the images put in front of us as being true. “If we wait for vaccines and new drugs to arrive to end the Ebola epidemic, instead of taking major action now, we risk the disease’s reaching from West Africa to our own backyards” (Osterholm, Michael T. ).
As more people are becoming infected with Ebola in the United States, citizens are becoming more worried and they are turning to the media for answers to how the disease is spread. There have been posts on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook about Ebola. Several of these posts have suggested that “Ebola can be spread through water, food and air,” which is not true. Unfortunately people believe it, as they are not searching for reliable resources (Luckerson).
This is similar to the prisoners in “The Allegory of the Cave,” only seeing the shadows of what is outside the cave and believing that what they are seeing is the real thing. The government is telling Americans to focus on the science of Ebola and not turn to the media for information. President Obama states that Ebola can be “contained and treated” (Easley). He is telling us this because he doesn’t want Americans to panic and believe the false information they are getting from the media. It seems that media is the main reason why Americans are walking around in fear.
Medical experts and doctors are using social media to inform Americans about the outbreak and to keep them updated on treatments and new outbreaks in different cities. The government feels like Americans are vulnerable to things on social media so that is why they are using that source (Firger). There are some people who believe that the social media is not a good idea for Ebola education because it has started a lot of chaos in the United States. There are different beliefs about Ebola, many people believe that Ebola was a conspiracy theory and that it was man made (Firger).
Other organizations, like Doctors Without Borders, seek to educate the public rather than letting them turn to the media. This is similar to the character in “The Allegory of the Cave” that becomes enlightened. This person understands that there are several sources of information, as there are in today’s society. One of the prisoners inside the cave is given the opportunity to see things beyond the shadows on the wall; he has the opportunity to see the statues, the fire, and part of the light coming from the entrance of the cave.
Astonished by the things he sees, the prisoner is confused, but at the same time realizes that those things are more real than the shadows he has always taken to be reality. This culminating event represents belief, belief that his “new” sense of reality is not what he believed to be true for many years. His experience is similar to what happens to individuals diagnosed with Ebola. There have been thousands of Ebola cases in the world. Unfortunately some people have died, and others have luckily recovered from it. The rest of the population who is not affected by the Ebola outbreak only watches story lines and updates through the media.
At this stage, those individuals take those updates as being their only true reality. They truly think that it is impossible for them to ever be infected with the disease. On September 30, 2014 the Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first case of Ebola in the United States; Thomas Eric Duncan, a man who had recently traveled back from Liberia (Cases of Ebola Diagnosed in the United States). After developing symptoms consistent with Ebola, the man sought medical help at a Texas hospital where he tested positive with Ebola. At that moment, the man realized that his current situation was far more real than the story lines he would constantly watch in the news.
He reached the point of belief that he was not immune from the outbreak. Shortly after being hospitalized, Duncan was transferred from the emergency department to intensive care. Despite all the volunteer work from the hospital, Mr. Duncan grew worse as the experimental drugs were not helping him. On October 8, “he was heavily sedated and he had tears running down his eyes, rolling down his face, not just normal watering from a sedated person. ” That day, Eric Duncan passed away (Ebola: Inside the First U. S. Diagnosis). Unfortunately, some individuals never come to realize that what Eric.
Duncan experienced could potentially happen to them. Aside from specialists who know what the outbreak could really cause and know the risks, the rest of the population might continue to live in denial that this outbreak could ever reach their lives. In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” we see how the person who is unchained ascends out into the light and sees the reality of the world. He is enlightened and knows the truth once he has had the experience of seeing it for himself.
This person now understands that the people who are still chained in the bottom of the cave are only looking at shadow images of actual objects. These people have not seen the truth and continue to only believe what they are shown, disregarding the words of the individual that actually has authentic experience with his surroundings. This is similar to the doctors that are on the front lines of the Ebola epidemic. Those healthcare workers that are actually going to Africa and are on the front lines battling this outbreak know better than anyone what this situation entails and it seems like nobody is really listening to them. “Doctors Without Borders” is the organization that sends many doctors and nurses to the front lines of healthcare crises or disease outbreaks.
All of the information that they are putting out is very non-alarmist and precautionary in regards to how this Ebola outbreak is being handled. As many in the media and individuals in the national, state, and local governments are panicking, sensationalizing, and politicizing this event, “Doctors Without Borders” has taken clear and deliberate steps in handling the situation. Many in government and media are touting the idea that we should have mandatory quarantines of any individuals who have gone to assist with the care of sick people in Africa.
Some, like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, have forced people into quarantine. Kaci Hickox is a nurse that has worked with “Doctors Without Borders” and went to help with the Ebola outbreak. Upon returning, she was quarantined by Governor Christie despite the fact that she had tested negative for the virus and has been asymptomatic. In addition to very strict protocol in the field, everyone who travels to help with the crisis follows a strict monitoring protocol and has guidelines they must follow (Q & A on MSF’s Ebola Response and Protocols). First, everyone is tested upon returning.
Those who test negative and are not quarantined monitor their body temperature three times daily for three weeks. They must remain within four hours travel of a facility that can isolate them should they become symptomatic. The period in which this happens also has several check-ins with the program to make sure these individuals are being monitored. According to “Doctors Without Borders”, as of October 30, 2014, there are currently 3,300 staff members working in West Africa (Q & A on MSF’s Ebola Response and Protocols). The number that has worked throughout this outbreak is significantly higher.
Of these workers, only twenty-three people have contracted the virus and only thirteen have died. This shows that those who are at the highest-risk of contracting this virus have strict protocol for protecting themselves and the public from further spread. The reality of the workers that are in the “hot zone” of this outbreak speaks much more clearly than the sensational and political rhetoric of some media and government officials. It is amazing how the human race has not evolved much in terms of putting its ignorance aside and embracing enlightenment when facing new challenges that couldbe life- changing as discussed in “The Allegory of the Cave”.
This similar ignorance, demonstrated by the attitude of the prisoners (when they were told of going upward from the darkness of the cave into the light in order to gain exposure to a whole different world of intellect and knowledge) can be compared to the current world’s attitude and response to the Ebola Outbreak, started back in March 2014 (Ebola Epidemic Declared in Guinea). If the world continues to act clueless and do nothing, our future can be greatly impacted.
President Obama made a smart choice by not closing off travel back and forth from Africa to the United States. As a result, more volunteers can go out and help, learn, and bring back firsthand knowledge that will open our eyes wider and further educate us on what is needed to eradicate this disease called Ebola. We owe it to our future and the future of our children to care for and educate everyone equally on this subject. The virus can enter the body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth. By taking the necessary steps to prevent future spreading of this disease, we can make an impact.
Notifying health officials and/or someone close, if you have had direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people, is the first step to quarantine the disease. Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with environments that have become contaminated with an Ebola patient’s infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles (Frequently asked questions on Ebola virus disease).
We all need to listen to what the doctors, who go over and bring back the most current information on the Ebola, are saying and not so much the media. We need not try to confine these doctors. We must formulate our ideas and plan our actions carefully when taking on this disease, while avoiding confusion and disbelief that we in the United States are safe. Where would we be today if Socrates did not take on the challenges of educating his students on becoming great philosophers and encourage them to envision a change for the future? We all need to do the same in response to this Ebola outbreak.
We need to continue talking about this via the media and social websites such as Twitter and Facebook, only focusing on the facts in order to educate and heighten awareness. We need to seek out information from trustworthy sources. This way, we can go upward from the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge and intellect on this subject.
Works Cited “Cases of Ebola Diagnosed in the United States. ” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 31 Oct. 2014. “Ebola Epidemic Declared in Guinea: MSF Launches Emergency Response. ” reliefWeb. Report from Medecins Sans Frontieres. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. “Ebola: Inside the First U. S. Diagnosis. ” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. “Frequently asked questions on Ebola virus disease. ”
World Health Organization. Global Alert and Response (GAR). Web. 8 Aug. 2014. “Outbreaks Chronology: Ebola Virus Disease. ” Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 31 Oct. 2014. “Q & A on MSF’s Ebola Response and Protocols. ” MSF USA. Doctors Without Borders, 27 Oct. 2014. Web. 31 Oct. 2014. Osterholm, Michael T. “What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola. ” The New York Times, 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. “The Republic. ” SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n. d. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.