Friday, July 27, 2018

Flight Delay

I finally got around to watching Elin Ersson's dramatic airplane protest against a man being deported to Afghanistan.

I'm totally on the left, so I SHOULD be greatly touched by her actions. I should admire her. I should  feel compassion and support.

I feel the correct feelings when athletes kneel during "The Star Spangled Banner". And my blood boils when the MAGA cult manipulates the conversation into being about disrespecting the military rather than racial injustice.

So...what's going on?

I think a part of it is the awful fact that I have a selfish side.

I picture being on the plane; wanting to get where we need to go; and being delayed.

I hate long plane rides as it is. I wouldn't want them to be longer than they already need to be.

But of course. My inconvenience has much less importance than a man's life.


I wonder, though. Does my inconvenience have much less importance than a gesture that ultimately might not save a man's life?

Well, yes. Probably.

I have these conversations with myself after watching the video. Because I want to feel what the other left people are feeling.

I think of the Holocaust. Of course. I'm Jewish. We do that.

I tell myself airplanes are delayed for other reasons. Mechanical failure. Weather. Racist flight attendants. So what difference does it make?

And still I feel uneasy about it all.

Then I start to understand what it is.

It's the idea that not everyone goes on a plane for a business trip or for an adventure they can show off on Instagram.

Some people might be trying to get to a wedding.

They might be trying to get to a funeral.

And I think of a scene from the book and TV movie Alex: the Life of a Child.

At the age of 8, Alex Deford is living her last day of life. One of her last requests is to drink some root beer. Her father goes to the grocery store to pick some up. As he stands in line, the person at the register chats cheerfully with the customer in front of him. The transaction happens at a pace that's way too leisurely.

In normal situations, we're supposed to be patient about these things. We're not supposed to check the time on our phones. We're not supposed to groan. We're not supposed to roll our eyes. We're not supposed to speak up and say things like, I have an important meeting I need to get to.

But what if the person waiting is not in a normal situation?  What if their young daughter is dying at home?

So I think that's the main reason Elin Ersson's protest makes me uneasy. I picture dire situations. I picture people in a rush to get to a dying loved one.

A part of me is saying, well...isn't that a bit dramatic and far-fetched?

Another part of me is saying, Not really. Humans die on a very regular basis. I'm guessing there are a lot of people around the world, at every moment, rushing to get to their dying loved ones...or severely injured ones.

My parents rushed from Atlanta Georgia to Athens Georgia after learning that their daughter had been hit by a car and had a massive head injury. The drive was less than two hours, but what if a protester had made it much longer. What if the protester had stopped traffic?

Jack might end up going to a college that's far away. I want him to feel free to go as close by or as far away as he wants.  But I AM afraid.  One of my biggest fears is I'll experience what my parents experienced. I fear I'll get a dreaded late night phone call.  I'll want to be immediately by my child's side, but I can't.  Because I have to wait for a car or plane to take me there.  That whole story is terrifying and depressing on its own. The thought of being delayed because of a protest makes it even worse.

Still. Do I make sense? Is there a way to not be in love with Elin Ersson's actions and still be a compassionate, decent human being?

I hope so.

I'm not 100% sure.

I guess the thing to do is take myself out of the shoes of the imagined people who are in a rush to see a severely injured or dying child, and put myself in the shoes of asylum seekers.

What if someone I loved was on the plane being deported to a dangerous place?  Would I want people to fight back?

I definitely would if their actions had a strong chance of stopping the deportation indefinitely.

Or how about another scenario?  If my loved one was having a heart attack, would I want the plane to be delayed so my loved one could get medical help?


Though I'm sorry for anyone on the plane who is delayed from seeing THEIR very sick or injured loved one.

I'm 100% for actions that directly save lives.

I'm 100% for actions that indirectly or symbolically save lives, but not 100% for these actions if they might create significant hardships for other people.

But my emotional turmoil is far from over.

A name is peeping in my brain.

Rosa Parks...and the brave woman who came before her.

Were the buses delayed because of these women?

I'm assuming they were.

And a passenger on one of those buses might have had a desperate need to get where they were going.

But without Rosa Parks and other brave, strong-willed women?

Well, things are still horribly awful for black Americans. But without Rosa Parks, they'd likely be even worse.


My mind is a mess.

I wish I could end this with a neat conclusion, but my thoughts and emotions are far from neat.

I don't like what Elin Ersson did. It doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It makes me feel annoyed and anxious.  Yet I feel with all the shit in the world, there might NOT be a better way.

I'd like to live in a world where voting and non-confrontational protests make a big difference. But too often it seems like these things are not enough.

Life fucking sucks sometimes. There. That's my conclusion.