Ebola: Acting Early, Decisively, and Long Enough

Is there a similarity between defending a country against a crazy ideology and defending a country against a lethal virus? In this article, I will consider that question and will conclude that, in fact, there are similarities between the two struggles. I have actually written an article about the Vietnam War, discussing how the US and its allies were able to defeat Communism without ever engaging in a NUCLEAR war. I noted the similarities between the two struggles. Here I will discuss this similarity in greater detail. My goal here is to encourage public officials in their struggle both against crazy ideologies—such as Religionism—and against lethal viruses, such as Ebola.

The Cultue Must Help in the Struggle

I believe it is the responsibility of the nation’s culture to develop the political thought about struggle or war. Governments exist to respond to the will of the people. Thus, it is up to the people to clarify that will and to express it. This responsibility belongs especially to the CULTURE of the nation, which is like the heart of the country. When the heart resonates like a clear bell, and the people expresses its will through its elected representatives, then the executive branch of the government can implement the will of the people.

It is important, then, for the culture (i.e., the heart of the nation) to discuss these issues and to clarify matters. It is not the responsibility of the government to figure out these things. The example is the body. In the body, setting up the purpose of life is not the responsibility of the brain, but rather the responsibility of the heart and the stomach. Likewise, in a nation, setting up the purpose of the nation is not the responsibility of the government, but rather the responsibility of the people and the culture.

In the body, the brain only  executes the purpose that it has received from the stomach and the heart. In the same way, in a democratic government it is not up the president to set up the purpose of the nation and the laws of the nation. That is done through the Constitution, through Congress, and through the Courts. The executive branch—i.e., the president of the nation—simply receives the national purpose and the laws—and then it executes those laws.

It should be noted, though, that the brain has a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere. In other words, the brain is a plurality. It is the same with the government of a country. It, also, is a plurality or Right Wing and Left Wing. Thus, when we talk about responding to a crazy ideology like Religionism or a lethal virus like Ebola, the response by the government (the brain of the nation) will wobble between the Left and the Right. It may be instructive, then, to contrast the Left and the Right. In doing so, let us keep in mind that the Left and the Right are both part of the same system; they are both good. Both have strong and weak features. They work best when they work together rather than in isolation.

A “Left” Response and “Right” Response to Ebola

Accordingly, the Executive Power of a democratic nation—in other words, the president of the nation—will veer to the LEFT or to the RIGHT according to its political affiliation. Both tendencies have good and bad features, and they work best when they work together. I have pointed out the need for unity between the two tendencies when I discussed the Administration of Pres. Abraham Lincoln. His Administration was able to accomplish much because he was willing to share political power with his formal rivals—the people who had opposed him in the presidential election.

The Left connects with the stomach (das Volk, the people, el pueblo); the Right connects with the heart (enterprise, corporations, banking systems). The Left is concerned with RIGHTS. The Right is concerned with FREEDOM. Here’s a table of differences between Left and Right:

LEFT WING                  RIGHT WING
Rights                             Freedom
Consensus                     Leadership
Prudence                       Action
Excuse                           Judge
Yield                               Resist
Appease                        Confront
Consideration              Decision
Resentment                  Celebration
Sadness                         Joy
Care for Poverty          Wealth Building
Tardy Response          Quick Response

As we can see, governments will vary according to their political affiliation. It is good for a country to alternate between the two tendencies. National balance will come through a healthy competition and alternation between the Right and the Left. Returning to the Vietnam War, what can we learn from that war?

The Vietnam War Sets the Standard

When the Vietnam War started in 1963, US leaders had fresh in their minds the warning by Sir Winston Churchill, when he said,

There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe.
—Winston Churchill. “The Sinews of Peace.” Speech given in Fulton, Missouri, USA. March 5, 1946.

It believe it was warnings like the one by Churchill that inspired Pres. John F. Kennedy to initiate the Vietnam War by acting early and quickly. Through the benefit of a 40-year hindsight, it is possible today to see what went RIGHT in the Vietnam War. How come the rifle-toting American GIs were able to bring down the Communist Bloc, which covered half of the world? My take on the US victory in Vietnam is that the US and its allies acted early, acted decisively, and acted long enough. A similar patter can be adopted in the struggle against Ebola.

  • Acting Early: This is similar to the immune system in the physical body. Early detection is the key. We have known about Ebola for some time. This is not a novel attack. Thus, to preserve the health of the nation, our elected representatives—especially the executive branch—must act early to defeat this challenge.
  • Acting Decisively: The standard is the body’s immune system. In the case of Ebola, by the time the virus has penetrated the body it may be too late. The rate of death is about 50%. It is estimated that, for every person infected, two other people will be infected as well. There is no doubt that the best way is to prevent infection in the first place.
  • Acting Long Enough: Like HIV or tuberculosis, the Ebola Epidemic needs to be fought with sustained determination and for as long as it takes. Here, again, the model is the body’s immune system. Once a virus is identified as an unwelcome invader into the body, the immune system will install and maintain a defensive mechanism against that virus. This defense will last a life time. Nations, to remain healthy, must defend its citizens in the same way—with sustained, lasting effort.

As we can see, the body is, again, the supreme model for all things, including for fighting Ebola. It is hoped that the national authorities of all countries in the world will establish policies that engage all lethal viruses with early, decisive, and long lasting efforts.

I conclude with a quote:

Let us forget that time exists, and not count the days of life! What are centuries over against the instant in which two beings thus anticipate and near each other?
— Excerpt From: Friedrich Hölderlin. ‘Hyperion.’ iBooks.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
October 17, 2014

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