Tags: god | religion | ebola

God Should Be 2014 'Person' of the Year

By Monday, 22 December 2014 09:22 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Time magazine recently named “the Ebola fighters” as their 2014 person of the year. It’s hard to argue with giving serious recognition to the men and women who have fought, and continue to fight, this terrible disease for which there is no established cure.

These people put their lives on the line — they run into the burning building just as most people are running out of it — and if that isn’t worthy of recognition, what is? And yes, that is alsoa plug for firefighters, cops, and other first responders, who do the same thing each and every day.

I know, technically the Ebola fighters are a group, not a person, but does that really matter? It might speak to the absence of any one dominant figure that is currently shaping world events, but aside from the fact that it’s often easier to wrap our minds around the impact of a single figure than of the achievements of a group; the issue is the achievement itself, not the person, so why quibble?

My issue with this issue, at least as covered by Time, is not one person or many, but that in naming the Ebola fighters as their person of the year for 2014, the magazine missed the fact that there seems to be a single “person” behind the people they are honoring, at least for many of those being recognized. That individual is God.

It’s not simply that “some” of those honored talk about God’s role in their lives, as Time casually mentioned far down in their coverage. Four out of the 5 Ebola fighters featured tell their stories as rooted in God and God’s plan for them.

Ambulance driver Foday Gallah, who cradled infected children and ultimately contracted Ebola himself, describes God’s plan for him. Heroic nurse and fellow survivor, Salome’ Karwah, speaks of her survival and subsequent work as having divine purpose as well.

Dr. Jerry Brown describes praying before going onto the wards to care for the infected, and Dr. Kent Brantley served as a physician in Africa as an expression of his own deep faith and commitment to religious mission.

Among the featured five, only Doctors Without Borders health promoter, Ella Watson-Stryker, describes her own heroic work in purely secular terms.

Based on the featured stories, it seems entirely reasonable, this year at least, to name God as the “person” of the year. Imagine that!

Some believers will likely respond that God really is the “person” of every year. And many nonbelievers will just as likely decry my view about this year’s person of the year as wrong-headed, to say the least. Those are theological debates which are not relevant to this story.

This isn’t about God vs. no God; this is about how God, for so many people, fuels their capacity to do good. Acknowledging God as the “person” of the year, simply acknowledges the shared importance that faith plays in the lives of these heroic Ebola fighters, as it does in the lives of so many people who go do heroic things.

Of course people can be “good without God,” as many atheistslike to say. We need look no farther than Ebola fighter, Ella Watson-Stryker, to see that. And on the chance that she too is a believer but happened not to mention it, the list of heroic people who have served humanity well is long and deep, including Nobel Peace Prize winners like Andrei Sakharov and social activist/musician Bob Geldoff, just to name two that spring to mind.

Ultimately though, if we want to better understand the acts of those we deem to be heroic, and even more so if we hope to emulate them in any way, it behooves us to appreciate not only what these heroes do, but what enables them to do what they do. In this case, that means appreciating the role of faith in many of their lives. It means that this year, we might want to think about God as the “person” of the year.

Brad Hirschfield is a rabbi, an author, and a commentator on religion, ethics, politics and pop culture. He also is Newsmax TV regular. He serves as president of the think tank, Clal, and is co-founder and executive editor of TheWisdomDaily.com. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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In naming the Ebola fighters as their person of the year for 2014, Time missed the fact that there seems to be a single “person” behind the people they are honoring, at least for many of those being recognized. That individual is God.
god, religion, ebola
Monday, 22 December 2014 09:22 AM
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