#90 Ebola and JFK

On October 17, 2014

Hello Everyone,

It is 4:30am, and I can’t sleep. I am out of town at a meeting with a group of highly educated and ethical people, many of whom I consider friends.

Yet, I can’t sleep because of a disturbing set of interchanges I had at the bar last night. Predictably, but belatedly, the conversation turned to Ebola. Equally predictably, it quickly turned into a blame game, first targeting the CDC, but eventually turning to the President, then to me for daring to support him.

I woke up just now, evidently having spent the last four hours subconsciously processing those exchanges and feeling compelled to share with all of you the dilemma that I face.

How can I help? And, I mean “I.”

We all know President Kennedy’s famous entreaty: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

Even among the most well-intentioned of us, a great many seem to have forgotten what he said in 1961. I hear nearly every day, even among the small-government types: why doesn’t the President fix this or that? And, why doesn’t he do it now?!

Therefore, I sit here and ask myself: what have I done to help stop Ebola “in its tracks?”

So far, the answer is – nothing (except writing one check.) Even though Ebola has been devastating West Africa for months already.

But, beginning now, I’m going to find out what else I can do. What organization would make the best use of another check? How can I help in West Africa, not just here? How do I ask the top-notch hospital a half-dozen blocks from our house what I can do to help them get prepared? How should my personal everyday “protocols” be changed — no physical contact with others, like they are doing in West Africa? More frequent hand-washing, and if so, with what? Is the standard Purell sufficient? How can I support my government, not criticize it? How can I help all of us stay calm?

I hope you are asking yourselves those JFK-like questions, too.

You won’t hear me lambasting anyone else until I take more personal responsibility for this enormous challenge to which I have finally fully awakened.

And, I hope the broader metaphor here is also apparent to my friends at the bar last night and to all of us.

Please, as always, pass it on. And, remember that previous Obamagrams are stored on www.obamagrams.com



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