When you can, decide for yourself

Jul 25, 2017

I recently was on a flight from Detroit to Lexington. This was following a cancelled flight the night before and had resulted in a scramble for a hotel room and rebooked flights for the next day. This did not portend well. Of course, a wise person once said, “Any plane that lands has been a good flight.”  I do agree with that!

So, back to Detroit to Lexington. This was a regional airline and the pilots were young. On the take-off, apparently the pilots saw a plane nearby and with an abundance of caution they aborted the take-off and veered quickly to a taxiway. This had never happened on a plane I was on before.  OK, it got the attention of all the passengers, but it was handled and then explained.  The next hour was fine, and as we began the descent to Blue Grass Airport, we realized the wind had picked up and the plane behaved like a bucking bronco.  A thunderstorm was right over the airport. The passengers felt the pilots working hard to wrestle the plan to the runway. Then, at the last minute, they instead accelerated and aborted the landing.  Again, a quick explanation that they had experienced wind shear and decided to go around again to be sure they could make a safe landing. Obviously, since I am telling the story, that happened.

I tell you this to make a point. A lot of our lives have to be lived with other people in charge. They have control. Pilots fly our planes, engineers design our bridges, construction workers build our buildings, surgeons operate on us—many of our services and underlying infrastructure are controlled by others.  At least for a time, we have to put ourselves in their hands.

Others have a large amount of control, but not all. For example, politicians and public servants create laws and policies that determine whether we have clean air and water, educational opportunities, and healthcare. In these instances, we are required to follow laws, policies, or regulations, but we can complain, demonstrate, vote, or even disrupt, so that our views may be represented and laws may change.

We have tax preparers, attorneys, teachers, and others whom we pay to give us direction or advice. We also have bosses or oversight boards, who decide things about our work life. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they may be having a bad day. As adults, we can take direction or advice but filter through our own perspectives and experience.  Even a well-qualified, experienced person may not always be right.  So we can share, ask questions, propose, negotiate, compromise, and sometimes decide for ourselves what the right thing is to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is important to let the pilots fly the plane. No amount of protest on my part would have or should have overridden their authority and responsibility. But let’s not give over our lives to those who may not have been educated to have certain skills, who may not understand our particular health or living situation, who may be motivated by something other than our best interests, or who may be having their own bad day and not paying attention. So, my advice?  Get the information, ask questions, make suggestions, represent yourself, follow trusted advice, or go a different way.  When you can, and when appropriate, decide for yourself.