Ebola is the sum of all current fears. It’s zombies come alive; it’s the outbreak scenarios films have warned us of; it’s the pandemic Big Brother has promised is surely coming. Be afraid; be very afraid. We’re on the Eve of Destruction. An editorial cartoon published 10/3/14 in The Austin American Statesman pictured Americans panicked by ISIS, Ukraine, the economy while behind them sneaked a big, black, ominous cloud of Ebola. I’m making the opposite point.
The head doctor for my county said on 10/2/14, “If you want to be afraid of something, be afraid of influenza. It kills far more in our county every year than any exotic illness does.” I say, if you want to be afraid of an illness fear the pandemic that has been around for almost 30 years: HIV.
Have you noticed that Ebola is spread the same way HIV is? Contact with bodily fluids. HIV caused panic in the 90s. When there was talk of treating it as the epidemic it was, the political left would have done of that. Then began the campaign to emphasize how difficult it was to get HIV. You could not get it through casual contact.
Twenty years later and equally mysteries virus is on our shores. People are calling for quarantines, for stopping travel from Africa, for pandemic emergency plans. All this because of one infected man. U.S. Statistics – AIDS.gov says that 1.1 million people with HIV infection live in the United States. One in six doesn’t know it. They cook and serve your food. They take your temperature at the doctor’s office. They nurse you in the hospital. They are daycare workers, school teachers, doctors, dentists, and clergymen.
So if you want to make of list of what to be afraid of start with HIV or influenza before you get to Ebola. Jesus, however, says something different. If the subject is fear, the object is God. He says not even the Devil belongs in the same category as God let only any illness of the body.
If you want something to be afraid of, if you want something to focus your fear on don’t start with the Devil or any disease that once it’s killed your body can do no more to you. Instead, “fear Him who is able to cast body and soul into hell.” That’s what Jesus says, and then He says, “Don’t be afraid.” Jesus takes all our fears, collects them in one jar – for who but God is in control of disease or Devil – and then He smashes that jar by saying, “You don’t need to be afraid.”
Someone is very interested in keeping us afraid but of the wrong thing. In the 1990s it was AIDS. In the early 21st century it was terrorism and that gave way to the Great Recession which now seems to be giving way to infectious disease and over all of these tolls the solemn bell of climate change.
In the 1950s, it was nuclear war. Check out the 1951 movie “Duck and Cover.” It teaches children how to protect themselves in the event of a nuclear strike. In one segment Tony is depicted on his way to his Boy Scout meeting alone. The blast strikes and good ol’ Tony ducks and covers like a champ. A nuclear strike never happened. Instead in her indolence and unbelief America was struck with a decadence that now makes it unwise for 10 year old Tony to go anywhere alone because of child predators. Running from one fear we ran right into the arms of a disturbing reality unseen and undreamed of.
As the person who ceases to believe in God doesn’t cease to believe but finds that he believes in everything – which is superstition, so the person who ceases to fear the true God finds he is afraid of everything – which is panophobia.