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Ebola Fighters Stride Out In Front



Fierce was the competition leading up to selection of this year’s Time Person of the Year. Runners up included Chinese business entrepreneurs, Russian politicians, Kurdish leaders, and even St Louis street protesters. But striding out front – on par with Pope Francis, 2013 Time Person of the Year – is this year’s winner “The Ebola Fighters: Doctors, nurses and others fighting Ebola through tireless acts of courage and mercy.”


What does Time’s choice of The Ebola Fighters as 2014 Person of the Year say about the temperature of American society? It could illustrate our fascination with minutiae: The risk in West Africa of dying from malaria is some 35,000 times higher than dying of Ebola. Time’s selection could also highlight our irrational obsession over pandemics: no American has yet to die of Ebola, while one hundred die every day from ordinary motor vehicle trauma.


I would prefer to look beyond these perspectives to some strikingly positive outcomes. Time’s choice of The Ebola Fighters is an endorsement of the virtues of bravery and self-sacrifice in defense of humankind. Time’s recognition also brings to West African nations and West African people previously unparalleled visibility. The future potential of this exposure for West African culture and commerce should be heartening, particularly in contrast with the struggles these nations face today.


Finally, recognition of The Ebola Fighters must be viewed as an outlier. Very few acts of true heroism are ever publicly acknowledged. Nevertheless everyday, in every corner of the planet, people go to great lengths to accomplish great good.

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