Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the formation of “a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States.”
Does this response make you feel more secure—or more worried?
Ebola has riveted Americans’ attention, eclipsing other issues that had dominated the news cycle. Over a third of the American population (36%) said they were closely following the story of the current Ebola outbreak, according to the Pew Research Center—and this poll was taken in early October before additional cases were spotted in recent days.
U.S. airstrikes against ISIS fell to the number two spot on the list of what Americans are very closely watching, followed by the travails of the Secret Service, and midterm elections next month, and protests in Hong Kong.
Ebola was the top focus in all age groups, Pew reports, except the oldest cohort (65+) where it tied with ISIS. Even 30% of the youngest age group (18-29) were closely following the Ebola story.
Ebola comes up in just about any conversation I’ve had in the last several days. For example, this past weekend I gave a talk about American values to a University of Michigan alumni group. The topic came up in response to a question about American values in the future. One clear connection is the core value of security—protection from external and internal threats to the nation. These are often thought of as terrorist threats, but global epidemics are also included.
Our responses to the Ebola threat are a crucible of the core values of security and of freedom. These values are often in tension. More of one means less of the other. Many of the tactics proposed to secure the nation from the threat of Ebola involve the reduction or suppression of the value of freedom.
Is Ebola a topic of daily conversation for you?
How do we manage such a panic as a population?
What values do we bring to bear in weighing information about Ebola and how we think about it?