Polls by CBS News and other organizations are showing that the number of people seriously concerned about Ebola is surging in this country. Americans are now viewing Ebola as a major health threat to the United States. The spread of the fear of Ebola is far surpassing any spread of the actual disease in this country.
Is there really a connection between fear and the infectious nature of disease? Yes, states a recent post in Medical Daily. “Fear may be one of the leading causes of the spread of disease,” according to the Socionomics Institute.
This group’s report continued, “A society’s susceptibility to epidemic outbreaks increases the longer they remain fearful and pessimistic. As a negative mood trend takes hold, a complacent, unprepared social environment presents a public health risk.”
For centuries, profound thinkers have identified fear as an emotion that must be contained. In one of her insightful novels about the boy wizard Harry and the battle between good and evil, author J.K. Rowling wrote, “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” So, while hospitals and medical authorities are researching ways to contain the Ebola virus, the rest of us can have a positive impact on our own health and that of our larger community by learning to contain the infectious nature of fear.
There are ways to be able to face and overcome our fear of illness. Health researcher, Mary Baker Eddy, investigated the phenomenon of fear of infectious disease and its consequences. In her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she pointed to a case of a man who died from cholera, convinced that he had contracted it from a previous cholera patient who had slept in his bed, even though no one with cholera had in fact slept in that bed.
She reasoned that the way to combat fear was through finding and acknowledging the presence of a divine, all-encompassing Love. This Love, she reminded us, is also more powerful than the disease or the fear of it. When we feel this love and when we express it to others, we can stem the tide of rampant fear. Eddy assured care-givers and patients of this healing presence of Love by quoting Scripture, “There is no fear in Love, but perfect Love casteth out fear.”
She even advised, “The more difficult seems the material condition….the stronger should be our faith and the purer our love.” Certainly, today, we could say that the situation with Ebola is a very “difficult … material condition”, not only for West Africa but for all of us.
Dr. Kent Brantly, who survived a bout with Ebola, recently counselled at length on resisting a climate of fear in this country. After speaking on the seriousness of the threat in Africa, he stated, “…the rest of us don’t need to be worried….We need to be putting that aside and trying to love our neighbors.”
Over and over, he spoke of this need of love for all people, a love that comes from a loving God. He stated, “This is not about me. This is about our great, loving, compassionate God who has called us to love our neighbors.”
Can this Love be infectious and have health benefits for ourselves and others? The Institute for HealthCare Consumerism says yes. They report, “The infectious nature of illness is a subject examined from nearly every angle. However, a reverse view is becoming increasingly clear – healthy and unhealthy behavior is extremely contagious.”
The love we first feel ourselves and then express to another can be just what we all need to find a release from fear.
As physician and author Larry Dossey wrote in his book, Healing Words, “If scientists suddenly discovered a drug that was as powerful as love in creating health, it would be heralded as a medical breakthrough and marketed overnight – especially if it had as few side effects and was as inexpensive as love. Love is intimately related with health.”
So get out there and spread some love; be an “infectious” giver of a power that can dissolve fear and bring health.
©2014 Christian Science Committee on Publication for Illinois