Fall – 2014 Session
Instructor: Tom Croak
Ebola: Using Symbolism from “The Allegory of The Cave”
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 becomes transmittable 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.