Dave Richards' Weekly Column in The Woonsocket Call

Dave Richards for October 21st..

--Okay, so I took some heat last week from people who thought I was making light of the ‘Ebola scare’ because I thought the just-concluded and successful Autumnfest celebration was more important and timely to discuss. I get it. Some people just need to hear about that kind of stuff all the time. “Ebola will kill us all”…..and all that. I’m sorry, I just don’t think that way.

First of all, I have great faith in the healthcare industry in the United States. It is tops in all of the world. And if you think they aren’t on top of this thing, you’ve not been paying attention. However, the truth is often boring and people would prefer to believe something less truthful but more exciting. For that, we have talk shows.

A quick look at the guests on the Sunday TV talk shows reveals that regardless of the responsibilities of their office, public officials at every level and of every government are being called upon to make public statements about Ebola. Some choose to calm the public fears. Some are choosing to fan the flames of public panic by wagging a finger at their political foe and accusing them of being ‘soft on Ebola’. I saw a member of congress this past weekend blame it all on President Obama.

Yes, it is true that the man at the top gets blamed for everything. And this time he is being blamed for the Ebola scare in the United States because our country has no Surgeon General in place. I don’t personally think having a Surgeon General would change anything, but this man on TV was saying it would make a big difference and it was all the president’s fault we didn’t have one.

For those who haven’t been watching this particular “Beltway Melodrama”, the president appointed a man he wanted to be U.S. Surgeon General, but congress, who has the power of confirmation, didn’t like him. As I recall, there was a social media tweet the nominee is said to have made years ago calling gun control “a healthcare issue”. He probably developed that opinion from seeing so many young people brought into emergency rooms with gunshot wounds from gang activity.

But regardless of where he got the opinion, members of congress turned their collective noses up at him and told the president to nominate someone else. The president told congress he had already nominated the right man for the job and they’d better get on with the work of confirmation. All this happened well over a year ago and each side is still waiting for the other side to blink. Petty? Of course. Reality? Well, it is the kind of reality you can only completely understand if you live in Washington, I think.

Meanwhile, the ‘Ebola scare’ takes on a life of its own, and I think it is just awful the way it is being sensationalized. And I think it is dangerous, too, in the sense that this very serious illness is getting a social media and info-tainment treatment to rival that given to O.J. Simpson and we could possibly end up seeing it being treated with as much respect as the former football great now gets. You mention Simpson’s name today and people either laugh or turn away or both. And this, I think would be a big mistake for Americans to make with regard to Ebola.

As I have said, with most issues of this kind the truth is boring. The truth is there are over 360 million people living in our country (give or take) and two people got sick. Two. And one of them went to Africa and contracted it there. I feel safe from Ebola. I do what my public officials tell me to do. The worrying about it I leave to them.

For myself, I try to live by the sage words of my dear friend, the late “Salty” Brine, who at the end of each show would remind us all to “Brush Your Teeth and Say Your Prayers!”. Salty explained to me once that it was a catchy phrase, yes, but it really meant to “Take personal responsibility for yourself. Do what you can do to care for what you have. And then to trust in your God to handle everything else”. There is a limit to what we can do to protect ourselves. We must trust in our God and our government to protect us from what we cannot protect ourselves from.

Being especially hygienic in our personal habits and paying attention to and assisting those trying to protect us is the best we can do. One good way to do this in Woonsocket is to sign up for the Code Red service and give the government your contact information so they can reach you and alert you if you are in danger from any known threat. You can register at the City of Woonsocket’s website at www.ci.woonsocket.ri.us , or by calling 401-597-6615 on your telephone. I have. I wish you would, too.

--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to dave@onworldwide.com or mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. Thanks for reading.


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