People With Ebola Are Better Than You

Every single person I can name who has had Ebola is a better person than me. And you. Every. Single. One.

Eric Duncan who died in Dallas, for instance.

At the heart of the Epidemic in Liberia he volunteered to carry his landlord’s pregnant daughter to a taxi so she might seek treatment. She was in the full-blown part of the disease, the stage where victims are most contagious and everyone knew it. When they arrived at the clinic there was not enough space and she was turned away. Eric Duncan then helped her get home where she would soon die.

He too later succumbed to the disease he contracted for his kindness, but not in a war-ravaged West African bare-bones infirmary where there were two dozen doctors for over four million people. No, after showing up with a fever at in a hospital in the “most advanced country in the world,” and telling medical staff he’d been in Liberia, they (we) gave him Tylenol and turned him away.

When he was finally admitted to a hospital days later with symptoms of the disease, as he began to succumb he implored the medical staff not to attempt to resuscitate him as not to risk any more lives. Our society then went on to fail at even the basic task of decontaminating his apartment, hiring a group called “The Clean Guys” to manage the task for which they were neither trained nor equipped.

According to his Fiance, Eric Duncan did not shun his Landlord’s sick daughter because Eric Duncan was a Christian. According to me he was a better person certainly than many of the most vocal citizens of the country where he died if we compare his behavior to the subsequent panic and demonizing directed toward a man who did nothing but display the highest of human values.

Would I have picked up the frail, coughing girl who was not my own child, when I knew all too well what her symptoms meant? Would I have carried her outside? Held her hair back while she vomited in the street? Would you have? I don’t know in my own case but we can for sure say that the Eric Duncan who doubted was overcome by the Eric Duncan who cared, and for such empathy he paid with his life.

And let us also not forget another case we can name: Nina Pham, 23 years old performing her sacred duty as a nurse. When I’m at work I’ll do everything I can to get out of an unpleasant task as banal as faxing because I’m that lame. Nina Pham, however, knowingly treated a man with an unspeakably terrible disease and she too was failed by our system that likes to boast of its prowess but routinely fails to support those we put in harm’s way.

Nina Pham could have called in sick. Nina Pham could have asked to have been reassigned. Nina Pham did neither of these things and while people in TV studios referred to those stricken with ebola in similar terms to plague rats, she treated a real human being and brought aid to the kind man who helped his landlord’s daughter in the taxi.

Nina Pham is better than me. And thankfully today she is better generally, declared free of the disease just last week.

The most recent case is Dr. Craig Spencer who went to Guinea with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). He’s been to hot spots all over the world helping people in need. I, in contrast, write a snarky blog and just yesterday exhausted a full half hour of my and other people’s lives complaining bitterly about those who don’t use Google Calendar when scheduling events.

Dr. Spencer is a better person than I am. He was, by the way, following protocols and when his body temperature, which he was monitoring twice as day as recommended, moved up just a single degree above normal he called MSF. They altered public health officials in New York who sent a specially equipped ambulance to get him to treatment. Our response to the disease, in regard to medical preparedness at least, has improved.

Dr. Spencer need not have not gone to Africa. He easily could have remained surrounded on every corner by pumpkin-spice lattes and gourmet cupcake shops, spending Sundays not in the dust of the developing world pushing back against hopelessness, but instead sipping twee little drinks out of mason jars at brunch on Amsterdam.  But, according to friends, that’s not who he is. His Fiance, a charity worker and now also in isolation said that she was grateful he is being treated here when so many around the world are left to die.

These are noble people. Every one. Their actions prove this.

Ebola preys on caregivers. It kills those who seek its victims with aid. Its trick is to make someone terribly ill in a place unprepared to manage its communicability and then infect those who get close enough to help. It’s like a sniper who with his first shot deliberately wounds rather than kills in order to create targets of the arriving medics . Ebola victims are those who, knowing this, choose to help anyway.

They are the best people among us.

… there was a sort of self-selecting process going on the whole time among all of the prisoners.  On the average, only those prisoners could keep alive who, after years of trekking from camp to camp, had lost all scruples in their fight for existence; they were prepared to use every means, honest and otherwise, even brutal force, theft, and betrayal of friends, in order to save themselves.  We who have come back, by the aid of many lucky chances or miracles – whatever one may choose to call them – we know:  the best of us did not return.

–Viktor Frankl, Holocaust Survivor, Man’s Search for Meaning

Nation’s Pants Shitters Gather in Washington to Strategize, Fudge Slacks

The up-and-coming Pants Shitting Party met at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation’s Capital this week to devise strategy around key issues facing trou-crapping voters.

Gonna wanna have these steam cleaned

Gonna wanna have these steam cleaned

Heading up the docket were Ebola, immigration, ISIS and the report from a highly reliable cousin of a customs officer that ISIS agents agents are smuggling Ebola-carrying immigrants over our borders. Besides these hot topics the over 2,000 attendees from around the country also sat in on seminars to hear speakers freak their motherfucking shit out over bullshit like GMOs, vaccines and teens getting hooked on ‘Krokodil.’

Stacy McGee who had driven 18 hours from Benton Minnesota in order to avoid airplanes where she fears sitting next to someone with the deadly hemorrhagic Ebola virus which has here at home thus far infected two health care workers in Texas out of 316 million total Americans. She says at the conference she’s found some terrific new ways to be irrationally terrified by absurdly remote, essentially non-threatening or entirely fabricated dangers.

Pants-shiitting or just a shart in the shorts? A panel debates.

Pants-shiitting or just a shart in the shorts? A panel debates.

She explained how she’d found her way to this growing movement:

“I was raised in a solidly Democratic household where we’d regularly drop a bomb in our hiphuggers over this or that. But as I got older I found myself more and more identifying with the specific elements of the Republican platform that made me scream at family members about the existential peril supposedly posed by gay marriage and Fox News fabrications like the ‘Knock-Out-Game.’ But even then I felt some party leaders like Mitt Romney weren’t fully pandering to my deeply unreasonable concerns. One day I heard Pants Shitting Party founder Newt Gingrich describe as real and probable a wholly concocted figment of his imagination regarding Iran disabling the entire United States with something called an electromagnetic pulse bomb. Since that day I’ve been a full-on Pants Shitter in mind and soul. It’s been so liberating to find an ideology that only requires me to become inconsolably terrified and then lash out without ever having to worry about solving real but boring challenges like our crumbling infrastructure or ballooning student debt.”

Pants Shitting Leaders say trajectories like McGee’s are common as the almost exclusively white, downwardly mobile, formerly middle-class membership flail impotently at dealing with the all-too-real perils of a complicated world.

“It’s much easier to blame brown people or convince yourself medical professionals are lying for some reason than to actually demand change from cultural monoliths like the financial industry,” said Pants Shitting Party Chairman Bud Radcliffe. “To do so would be mean seeking impartial information sources, demanding accountability from institutions that hold the public trust and other hard things. There is also the massive inconvenience of developing appropriately scaled responses, modifying damaging behaviors and realizing there is no such thing as a risk or harm-free life. No thank you!”

“We Pants Shitters have simply come to grips with the fact that it’s simpler to glance uncritically at something on the Internet, crap your khakis, and then generate enough hysterical online activity to cause any rational person to beg for the sun to go nova in order to burn  the stupid off our planet in a massive purifying barrage of powerful gamma radiation. We think of ourselves as pragmatists.”

Radcliffe pointed to his his lapel pin featuring the Pant’s Shitting Party logo, a keyboard caps lock button with the green light lit. “Caps Lock or Get the Fuck Off! Also: Benghaaaazi!” he shouted to cheers from around the crowded conference hall.

Media outlets have been quick to cater to this expanding demographic. No end of television segments, blog posts, social media engagements and a near epoch of talk radio time has been dedicated to help Pants Shitters take the massive drawer-dumps for which they’re known.

Attendees walk the floor between Docker Dookies.

Attendees walk the floor between Docker Dookies.

“We used to mostly cater to bullshit addicts,” said CNN Senior Executive and conference presenter Jordan Walsh. “But there are only so many royal weddings and disappearing planes, know what I mean? With Pants Shitters we can cram weeks worth of airtime full of vapid speculation and hearsay without fear of the audience getting bored and changing the channel. They’re like rats in a food pellet experiment. Better, even.”

Kiosks around the hall offered a variety products for committed Pants Shitters. At one sat sixty five year old former industrial arts teacher Gregg Gains of Shreveport Alabama, who cheerfully reports he’s been deucing in his relaxed-fit Levis since the attempted introduction of the metric system in the mid 1970’s. Arrayed on the folding table front of him were souvenirs tracing the entire history of the Pants Shitting movement from axes with “Anti Saloon League” burned into the handles to Y2K-themed hats and shirts. Anti-fluoridation souvenirs were his most resilient product line, with 60’s-era anti-communist “fluoride information” pamphlets selling as briskly as “NO!” buttons shaped like teeth, popular with activists who pooed in their skinny jeans all over Portland Oregon just this past summer.

Why do you think they called him "Goldwater"?

Why do you think they called him “Goldwater”?

Experts note that as the challenges facing our nation and even species demand a level of heightened consideration and subtly beyond what a significant portion of the electorate is willing to commit, we should expect Pants Shitting to offer an ever-more attractive alternative to constructive attempts at problem solving for the indefinite future.

This observation was borne out by this years schedule of events, which had originally included a truly chino-packing presentation from leading climate researchers. Conference organizers, however, elected not to allow it in a last-minute vote. From a prepared statement a spokesman revealed global climate change was not in the realm of Pants Shitters’ typical concerns and was at best something for their constituents to mire themselves in via a cockamamie blend of denialism and absurd, hastily-concocted conspiracy theories.

“That climate shit has real-live scientists soiling themselves all over the fucking planet,” the statement read. “It’s way out of our league.”