It has been said that if the Ebola virus had originated on the mainland of Europe or in the USA then it would have already been defeated. An antidote to the virus would have been created. Science would have been applied. Which of the ‘Pharmas’, the ‘health’ conglomerates, are interested in creating life saving drugs that make them no profit?
There is a view that the initial lack of ‘concern’ for those suffering from Ebola was because African people were, for the G8 countries and China, in far away places one knew little about, or cared about even less about, and were not ‘important’. It has been suggested that this lack of concern was racist. It’s hard not to think this to be true.
But there’s more to it than that.
Ebola is a zoonotic viral disease (a virus that jumps from an animal to a human animal host). It’s been been around for some time, probably before 1976 when it was given its name. It has, in large part, been restricted to outbreaks in Africa with contamination spreading to other countries through bodily fluids passing between people. I’m not a scientist so I’m not trying to explain how this terrible virus works. I’m aiming to make another set of points that locate such disease within an arrogant western culture where the ‘natural world’ is held either in contempt or is romanticized.
There is a clear disjunction between science/medicine and those who hold political power. How else can one explain the lack of awareness shown by political leaders when told of the danger that Ebola presents? Political leadership, government, in the G8 is, to a large extent, focused on the management of money and the markets that make money from money for those that have money. A consequence of this is an inability to take the insights provided by science seriously – this ranges from a disbelief in climate change to a dismissal of Ebola as not worthy of curative investment – until of course there are cases in Europe and the USA.
There is another dimension to this arrogance and it’s this.
There are those that believe that we human beings are the natural and legitimate rulers of the natural world of Planet Earth. Humans are superior beings. We have the right to exploit the world’s resources as we see fit and often without a care as to the long-term consequences of our exploitation. We can defile and destroy entire habitats for profit. We can sacrifice the future for short-term gain. Sometimes we get it right and real benefits accrue to us humans – but there are always consequences. These are familiar arguments and I need not repeat them here.
The belief that humans are superior to all other creatures ignores, and thus diminishes, the existence of other indigenous life forms. One of these is the virus. Viruses, such as Ebola, are a fundamental and necessary part of the eco system that is planet earth. But that doesn’t make them benign, doesn’t make them safe and doesn’t mean they can arrogantly be ignored.
How can G8 governments and China be so ignorant, arrogant and dismissive of the realities and dangers of the natural world?
There are four reasons that may explain why the West acted so slowly in ploughing resources into fighting Ebola in West Africa:
1. Racism
2. Ignorance
3. Arrogance
4. The pursuit of financial profit above all else.