I recently read an article and viewed the accompanying picture which will haunt me for some time. It was about one of the Ebola victims and how, after she had died, her young daughter was left crying, alone, in their yard and the neighbors did not want to approach for fear of contracting the deadly illness. I do not know all the details, but I can easily imagine the scene and I suspect that this is not an isolated scenario.
I have been in situations where I was caught off guard and personal safety was thrown into question and sticking my neck out to help another person seemed like a dangerous idea. I remember that I was never proud of my fear. Yet I cannot fault people for not wanting to take the risk of spreading a deadly and contagious disease.
What I do think is important when discussing these matters with my children, one of whom is presently in a nursing class, is that we never forget our calling to be more than prudent, but to be compassionate – even in our prudence. Sometimes I have a tendency to see things in black and white – as if there are really only two clearly defined choices when, in fact, if I stopped to think a moment, there might be many creative ways of addressing a serious problem without sacrificing decency and compassion. Fear tends to shut off our brains and we react without proper thought.
In the situation with the thirteen year old girl crying at the loss of her mother, I can see where the neighbors were fearful of approaching, but I dearly hope that some actions were taken to provide care and love to that child, as well as her brothers and sisters, who are undoubtedly facing a very distressing future. I fear that in facing terrible news I sometimes let the weakest of me rule, and I just want to get away from the situation. But that is not what I am called to do by the God who endowed me with the capacity for courage and love.
The next time I am faced with terrible news in the suffering of another person and the choice to back away or to approach, I hope I will, no matter the cost, remember that to live fully is to risk everything on our highest honor. I do not need to play a fool to act heroically. True heroes can be both wise as well as wonderful.
Copyright 2014 Ann Frailey