There are so many thoughts whirling around in my head this week that I should be dizzy. Some benign and some reactions to the crazy shit happening around us. So this Thoughtful Thursday is a purge. I need to release some of these thoughts from my head and decide what, if anything I can act on. Trust when I say this is random.
Talking Heads Blackout
After the presidential election in November, I vowed to stop watching cable and broadcast news that present opinion as news and that have pundits screaming over each other to get their point across. I want verifiable facts, not sound bites, not alternative facts, not interpretations of facts and not opinions. As of today, I have been able to keep my promise to myself and to Gary. When Gary turns on the TV to CNN or MSNBC, I leave the room. I have to do this so I do not scream at the TV or throw my shoes at the TV. Gary is grateful that I have done so, because now he can actually watch instead of listen to me rant.
This is not to say that I do not get the news from other sources. And yes, I am aware that some but not all of my sources are left leaning. But I do make an honest effort to find the stories with substantiated and verifiable facts. This takes effort as one can no longer trust that something you read is true. Who would have thought that all of this access would produce such garbage that needs to be sifted through. It is sad really because I fear most people take as fact what they read regardless of the source. Should I do so, please call me out.
The Polarization of Compassion
My thoughts on the subject of empathy and compassion have been constant for most of my life. Society has always struggled with “other” but the extremism in our national and international discourse has fostered and influenced a complete and utter lack of understanding, empathy and compassion for our fellow man/woman. There is so much animosity towards others everywhere bolstered by what seems like senseless explanations for the callus treatment of others. Be it by the misguided interpretation of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other religious faiths, political extremism, prejudice, lack of education, general intolerance of all things “not like you”, even greed, and on and on and on. I feel we are teetering toward a world we thought was in the past and it is frightening.
Merriam-Webster defines empathy as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this”. Merriam-Webster defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”.
Just thought I would share these definitions.
The United Incident
Even corporations are capable of a lack of empathy and compassion, This week I could not believe my eyes as I watched the videos of Dr. Dao, a United passenger being dragged off of the airplane to make room for a deadheading crew. When the randomly drawn customer would not vacate his seat for a crew member, the Chicago Aviation Police were called and he was forcibly battered and removed from the plane. If you even only occasionally fly and have not watched the videos you need to. Watch here. And here.
You Really have No Rights
Yes, United has the “right” to do so, based on the fine print in the Contract of Carriage that we all agree to when we purchase an airline ticket on any common carrier. But should they have done so? No. I mean, Absolutely not! The customer at this point had every reason to believe that he was getting to his destination. The United ground crew loaded the plane. From a place of customer service and decency that is where it should have ended. Period.
The deadheaded crew, what about them? I do not know or care… that is a company management issue and not a customer’s fault. Yes, it’s complicated but there has to be a better way. Perhaps United did not offer enough money to make it worthwhile for a passenger to miss a day of work, the wedding of their favorite niece, the life saving surgery that the passenger needed, or whatever reason no one volunteered to vacate the plane. United stopped at $1,000.00. So I have to ask United Airlines, was it worth it?
I can only speak for myself but Dr. Dao’s removal is a symptom of a much larger problem: Airlines have lost sight of the importance of the customer.
Honey, They Shrunk My Seat
Did you know that in 1985 the average seat width on one of the big three airlines was between 19-20 inches wide and today that width is now 17-18 inches. Yes, I may have put on a few pounds but the airlines have also shrunk the seats.
Plastic and Coal
The residents of Charleston County are lucky to have a recycling program that accepts all recyclable plastics from number 1 to 7. That is a lot of different types of plastic. So why aren’t all plastics recyclable? Can someone please explain that to me? Anyone?
There has been much talk in the politisphere about “saving coal”. Are you aware that permanent blue-collar coal industry employees represent 0.12% of the U.S. workforce. That’s miners to power plant workers and everyone in between. How do so few people has such huge influence?