Over the last four years my life has changed for the better with the addition of my two beautiful daughters. Their birth has triggered many questions and provide few answers. Most importantly, how did my parents do it? How did they keep three boys mostly out of trouble? After four years of thought I think I have found a credible explanation. It is one which I think I intuitively knew but resisted. It was not luck. It was community. It was the village. It was hard work.
Being in a household with structure is vital and essential. But having room to discover the world is where the real growth occurs. The religious structure of Seventh-Day Adventism was conservative and liberal rolled into one. The triple focus on the Advent, education and health made the development of good habits not a choice but the obligation. These habits have served me, my brothers and many very well. Adventism for us was about understanding but the return of Christ is promised, but while on earth it is our responsibility to be well-educated so we can sensibly discuss our faith and treat our bodies as the Temple of Christ.
I was not a very attentive student and one of my sixth grade teachers gave me a book on the Solar System. I discovered the universe and all the questions that come with the smallness of humanity in the grand scheme of things. That sparked many questions, which included questions about the value of religion. Gladly my parents were tolerant. They understood the value of curiosity. They allowed me the room to discover the world within the bounds of God, School and Health. My values are defined and in concert with Adventism, but I am not chained to it. That freedom within limits is what sustains me to this day.
I know my parents are sometimes troubled by my outlook on religion, but it is that religious liberalism of Adventism that has led me to questions. The conservative structure of Adventism is blended with a true environmentalism. Adventism can claim truthfully that we were the first among organized religion that to realize that conservation the planet is the true work of man. We have from the founding of the movement recognized that the Lord has provide us a home that we are responsible to Him to protect. Vegetarianism is the best way to converse the planet and simultaneously treat our bodies as the temples they are. I am and will always hold true to the fundamentals of my up bringing and strive to inculcate the same in my girls. God, Education and Health.
Take a good look into your life and pull those truths out and live them. Our parents knew something. They did raise successful children. Thanks mom and dad. All that is mine is your. Love you forever.
MLK day is a Federal holiday celebrating the work and life of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in advancing the cause of civil rights for all. His brand of resistance was non-violent and has inspired many around the world. The older I get the more I appreciate the importance of celebrating this great man. His view of civil rights was open and expansive and included great regard and advocacy for the poor. This and his opposition to the Vietnam war is not often discussed, but is worth the time to investigate.
The life and times of MLK is a testament to the strength of the founding ideals of American democracy. The ideas are great but the execution has been lacking from the start. The continued struggle to make this a more perfect union is what makes MLK day a worthy celebration. MLK day signifies hope and dreams. Dreams that my girls can and will have the opportunities needed for a truly fulfilling life.
The MLK example in its truest sense is inclusive and expansive. His dream is the American Dream. It is not of material gain but of Liberty for all. The dream asks me to be responsible for my fellow-man. The dream asks me to be responsible for the biosphere. The dream asks me to have the foresight to dream of a time when we all can free ourselves from the mental slavery. The slavery that still continues to hold the color of a person’s skin as a reflection of his intellect. That long walk to freedom of the mind is still ongoing. I use to forget the struggles, but when you have kids there are things you cannot ignore. The anemic celebration of the ideals of MLK is one of those things that cannot be ignored. It cannot be ignored because in some quarters there is still a deep-rooted disregard and disdain for his message. Depending on where you live it may seem as if this holiday is ignored or just tolerated. Why is that? Why is it that some businesses opt out? I am slightly offended but I should not be surprised?
I celebrate in part by reflecting on the words of Bob Marley and Nelson Mandela, because it continues to be a long walk to our redemption. How will you celebrate?
I think it fair to say most little boys at one time or another gazed up and contemplated flight. The wonders and adventures awaiting among the clouds. The untold wonders of far away lands filled with exotic people governed by alien cultures and foreign ideals. The beautiful all female cabin crews hanging on your ever word. I was among the young dreamers who spent countless hours escaping the bounds of gravity through the mind’s eye. Every free moment was spent aloft among the clouds, stars, and jetliners. Flights of fancy fueled by an active imagination.
The Cold Reality
Among aviators there is a long-held tradition of congratulating someone on their first airline job by exclaiming “living the dream!”. Today the response is “living the nightmare” you mean? I could fill the libraries’ of antiquity with the bemoaning’s of Airline Pilots, but to spare you undue discomfort I will be brief. The romanticized image of a pilot as a well paid happy level-headed professional possessing all the prerequisite expertise of a Navy Top Gun is misguided; more and more the reality is far from the idealized image of Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. In reality, pilots have become little more than cannon fodder in the war of attrition being waged in the airline industry. Armies vying to see who loses money at the slowest pace. This leads to companies offering tickets at a price hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars lower than the cost. The price of fuel goes up, the price of new aircraft goes up, landing fees at airports go up, however the price of a ticket keeps going down. Is that logical? If you are counted among the sane and rational you must be thinking that something has to give and yes something does. The airlines sacrifice quality service, pilot standards, training and pay. Aircraft maintenance at some airlines is just short of a joke. The airlines point to statistical data showing improved safety, but that is a testament to Boeing and Airbus making great aircraft with redundant systems. Passengers think they are getting great deals on tickets, but at what price? One has only to realize that completion of the route without a crash is considered a success. That is the definition of safety today.
Chronic fatigue is a constant and unrelenting reality in the life of an airline pilot. The majority of the time your pilot will be tired and sometimes dead tired at the beginning of your flight. There are stories of pilots falling asleep on approach, on take off and during taxi. I once had the flying pilot fall asleep at 1500 feet just after takeoff. I took the controls of the aircraft and flew as a single pilot 4 hours to the final destination. I woke the ‘flying pilot’ at 5000 feet for the landing. The fatigue is unrelenting and often times physically painful to endure. A friend told me that he had a Captain on an US carrier fall asleep on the takeoff roll, he woke the guy up on the ground at the destination airport, because the Captain has to taxi the aircraft. Airlines treat pilots as tools, we are just like airplanes. The philosophy is to keep us flying for as many hours of the day, week, year as they legally can. Little to no regard is shown for the pilots health, family or mental well-being. Profits come first and airlines will do anything to cut cost in the blood sport that is aviation. Pilots are among the most disgruntled professionals. The majority are unhappy with our jobs and are planning to leave the industry. I had a classmate leave the Industry to work at Home Depot and he is making more money there. The worse part of the whole system is that regulators around the world are complicit in the slow destruction of this once proud industry.
Will fly for food stamps and a pipe dream. More coming next time.
The current consternation in our country about the provision of health insurance for the entire population is somewhat baffling. The selfishness that says that ones lack of insurance is always your fault is truly inhumane. Maybe I am the selfish one because I want to get paid for my services. The dilemma we have is that most of us don’t understand the care delivery system and more problematic is that we don’t understand the concept of insurance. Neither is easy to explain in our 30-second 24-hour news cycle. The paradox of not wanting to spend hundreds of dollars to save hundreds of thousands is lost on the general population. More precisely, ‘a penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. It seems that the few that understand either gain from the broken system or are powerless to change it.
The conditions that lead to lack of insurance are varied and are sometimes self-inflicted. In spite of this, it is our responsibility to care for each other. After my last weekend on call I have come to the conclusion that access to health care including insurance is a basic human right. Some may disagree, but I say you are 100 percent wrong. My other conclusion is that I am not the selfish one. Sadly, that leaves you. Yes, I know I have no right, but I have seen too much to disregard the obvious and pervasive selfishness and disregard shown to the weakest among us. We claim equality for all but are quick to disregard the suffering of others so we can continue to consume more than we need. The obesity epidemic is the prime example. We buy more, consume more and throw out more food than we need many times over. At the same time we claim concern for the hungry. We however are oblivious to our own part in their deprivation. We, and that includes me, don’t really care about the others. We want to be seen to care without putting in the work.
For those that are now labeling me ‘one of those liberals’. Yes I am a proud Liberal. Yes I am a proud Capitalist. Yes I am a proud Libertarian. Yes selfishness is good, but greed is not. The selfishness of Capitalism looks to preserve individual advantage and caring for the weak is a part of that process. The problem is that most people are not informed enough to even look out for their own advantage. The low information citizen is easily manipulated into thoughts and actions that are not in their interest. The sadness I feel is enough to make me not care, but the truth is that some of us are not capable of not caring. We are the ones attempting to keep society balanced. Sadly in spite of the obvious we are still convinced that the majority of the population is caring and empathetic. I beg respectfully to disagree. Few people are truly heroic and even fewer are willing to tell the truth when they are the only ones who believe it. This is where we are. Our selfishness is self-centered, poorly directed and lacking in insight. This lack of insight will be the death of us all as a species.
What will we leave behind when evolution no longer has any use for our poor survival instincts? Are you planning on making a change this year?