We are Living in Scary Times

If ever there was a time to be scared about life it is now. With the risks of global terrorism, a deadly disease that potentially could become pandemic, the potential for cataclysmic events from global warming, and various conflicts between nations that could escalate into a war, the world has never been in such a precarious position as now. Here in the US breaches to the security of the president adds to the scariness.

Two events that have occurred recently that provide evidence that life is tenuous on this planet because of the actions of man and diseases are: the atrocities and threats of the terrorist group, the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Ebola disease. Secondary events but by no means inconsequential and frequently in the news are global warming, the war in Afghanistan, the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the recent breach to the security of President Obama.

ISIS terrorism – the brand of terrorism being practiced by ISIS includes the medieval practice of beheading, the killing of many people (some simply for not complying with their demands to convert to Islam), and driving people away from their homes. To date three Western journalists (including two Americans have been beheaded). What makes ISIS scary for Americans is that they have threatened to bring their terrorism to American soil. This has caused many Americans to become fearful of the terror group especially with stories that they could infiltrate America through the Mexican border.

The divisive politics in Washington has not helped to alleviate the fears of the ISIS terrorism threat to America. While the GOP Congress did authorize $500 million for vetting, training, and arming members of the Free Syrian Army, they have failed to call a vote to decide on whether to deploy boots on the grounds to destroy or degrade ISIS. Instead of closing ranks and working with the president to defeat ISIS, some GOP members continue their disparaging remarks about the president ability to deal with ISIS. Former VP Dick Cheney the architect of the failed Iraq war continues to cast negative aspersions against the president on his ability as a leader.

With the GOP unwilling to work with President Obama, the president has once more been left on his own to deal with the ISIS threat to global security. So far the president has managed to coordinate a coalition of countries to fight ISIS and without waiting on the “do nothing congress” ordered coalition attacks on ISIS.

The Ebola virus – while the ISIS threat was being extensively covered by the media, that story began sharing top billing with news of the first Ebola case in the US. This happened last week when a man who travelled from Liberia to Texas showed up at a Dallas hospital where he was diagnosed with the Ebola virus.

Despite previous assurances from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that the Ebola virus was not a threat to the US and that there were medical protocols in place to deal with it, these assurances collapsed with the case in Texas. What was even scarier was that all the protocols that were talked about to contain any possible case of Ebola in the US broke down. The Texas hospital staff had procedural problems and tracking people who came in contact with the victim was difficult. Not to mention the authorities had problem finding contractors that were willing to decontaminate the room where the victim stayed.

Because there are more opportunities for air travel between countries there are major challenges to prevent the spread of a deadly virus like Ebola. There is the limitation of expertise and resources in countries like Africa to take aggressive and effective actions to contain the Ebola virus. The media has inundated us with information about Ebola, however, I am still curious as to why viruses like the Ebola and HIV starts in Africa. I would be interested to learn what the thoughts are on this.

Breaching the president’s security – this was another scary story that the media jumped on between the ISIS and Ebola news frenzy. It started when a man scaled the White House fence and made his way into restricted areas of the White House. How could this have happened at a place that is so heavily reinforced with security personnel, short circuit TV cameras that pan the perimeter of the White House, and dogs? Did all these security measures simultaneously have a temporary lapse?

Following the security breach of the White House, we learned of a similar incident months earlier when the president was in Atlanta. A man with a gun (supposedly thought to be a security person) entered the elevator with the president. Fortunately, for the president nothing happened to him. With all the hatred and disrespect shown to President Obama one could be forgiven for wondering if there is some kind of conspiracy at work here with the president’s security detail. After all we learned just this week that a secret service agent assigned to Mitt Romney during his presidential campaign in 2013 was leaking information to Romeny’s staff on the president’s schedule.

What I found interesting about the security breach was that Congress called a hearing and the same GOP congressional members who want to impeach the president, who will not cooperate with him on anything, and who have been trying to link him to so called scandals – Benghazi, IRS, and Fast and Furious – were now concerned about the president’s safety. These were men who were trying to bring down the president now they were concerned about his security. Perhaps they realized that their vitriol and hatred against the president was encouraging these security breaches.

Global warming – while there is no media frenzy yet on the consequences of global warming, there is enough evidence that suggests that its consequences could be devastating. Experts have predicted potential consequences ranging from, changes in weather pattern, severe heat waves, extinction to wildlife species, the melting of the ice caps, increase sea level with potential flooding, and increase ocean temperature.

Because global warming has human factors contributing to it, it is an issue that warrants serous research and actions to minimize the human contributions. Unfortunately, global warming has become a polarizing political issue. On one hand the Republican Party does not believe it is real while the Democrats believe otherwise. Global warming is not a political issue it is a scientific issue and as such should be left to scientists and other experts to determine actions to slow down the threat of global warming to life on the planet.

The media contributes to scaring people– when events like ISIS terrorism, the Ebola virus, and presidential security breach becomes news headlines, the media goes into news overdrive that includes not just facts, but speculation, and the opinion of experts. All of this is repeatedly layered with the same information hour-after-hour, day-after-day until the story fades away when there is new breaking news.

By now everybody knows what the Ebola virus looks like (something like a Boy Scout rope knot). Pictures of the virus have been shown repeatedly on television as if this is vital information to help contain or control the Ebola virus. This reminds me of when the media reports a story about radioactivity from a nuclear power plant where they show pictures of the hyperbolic cooling tower as if that was the source of the radiation. What they should have been showing instead is the dome shaped reactor building that contains the radioactive fuel rods.

The media over the years have over-reported stories involving accidents, natural disasters, and other threat to human life to whip up fear instead of providing basic information and the facts about the story. What is even worse is that politicians have used fear and scare tactics to promote their political agenda. For example some politicians are using ISIS to make their case that ISIS could infiltrate the US via the Mexican border. This of course creates fear to make voters think that the party creating the fear can do a better job making the border more secure.

Reacting to serious problems whether they are threats to our security or health by fear and panic is not the way to deal with these problems. At this stage when there is so much political divisiveness and lack of politicians with integrity the country needs leaders acting in a consolidated manner to calmly and deliberately provide assurances to the public on the course of actions to deal with these problems. A partisan approach is not the answer and only shows how divided the country is in solving problems.