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Selfishness - A Product of Fear

            Selfishness, fear, and altruism are all traits that can break or make a community. In the case of Richard Preston's The Hot Zone, these attributes, or lack of, maximize human error and send the world into a near death situation. Comparing former and semi-modern times, Edgar Allen Poe writes about an incredibly fatal disease that has already killed off half of the kingdom at the beginning of the story. Prince Prospero neglects his poor subjects and allows the socially lower people to fend for themselves. While the red plague rages on, Prince Prospero throws a palace party for his favorite thousands of knights and ladies. His selfish acts send his favorite subjects and himself to death, but fear and lack of altruism is what primarily instigates his first actions. .
             Within a community lies the positive opportunity of service and/or selflessness, within the world lies the opportunity of both positive and negative choices, therefore emphasizing and promoting negative and selfish influences. In The Hot Zone, several characters model the role of selfish traits. Beginning with Nurse Mayinga who is determine to do what she desires, traveling abroad, even though she has the possibility of being a hostess to the deadly virus, Ebola. Nurse Mayinga cares for an infected nun in Kinshasa; once she begins to feel ill, she escapes into the city for two days to find a larger hospital only to be sent back with a malaria shot. She risks a population of two million people just to attempt to cure herself. Preston states that when the story of Nurse Mayinga reached the World Health Organization in Geneva, the offices went to insane alert mode and mentions that "European governments contemplated blocking flights from Kinshasa. The fact that one infected person had wandered around the city for two days when she should have been isolated in a hospital room began to look like a species-threatening event.

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