We are all West Africans now. The prospects for the African people and the governments of the affected countries are grim. If Ebola is not contained now, the prospects for the rest of us are unknown, but certainly can bring nothing but harm.

With all the turmoil around the globe, much of it caused by fragile or failed states, we are faced with challenges both moral and political. The question becomes, what is our obligation as citizens of the most powerful nation in the history of the world?

Observe any unit, small or large, from the family unit, to corporations, to nations. It is clear that leadership of any of these units, to be successful, must have the qualifications of wisdom, compassion and intelligence. As individuals, we also are required, as members of these units, to have those same qualifications to whatever degree possible.

Since we are all West Africans, we are likewise part of the thread of all existence. My church, the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland, has our belief written on the walls of our sanctuary and in our hearts: We celebrate diversity, encourage spiritual growth and foster social responsibility as we walk with care on this earth.

Thus, it is my duty to call attention to the actions of our government, which are not wise, not compassionate enough and a misuse of intelligence. We were late in coming to the aid of the West African Ebola crisis.

When we finally did respond, our leaders did not put out an appeal to our health care workers for help. Instead, we sent our military to respond to this health crisis. This is symptomatic of the fact that our military strength is our most important asset.

Sally Breen


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