By Craig Funston
There is nothing like air travel to restore one’s faith in humanity.
That is, unless the flight involves someone yelling “Allah,” and
waving a rifle. Celestial jihad aside, flying from Point A to Point B
can give a new perspective on society…usually.
But then again, maybe placing one’s “faith in humanity” is the wrong
focus these days. Either way, it’s just an expression, friends, meant
to add colour to one’s speaking or writing—likely at the expense of
All above considerations aside, I found a recent trip was most
encouraging, despite my personal resistance to flying.
I took a trip to Prince George, BC, the other week, for some speaking
engagements. That involved flights from Calgary to Vancouver, the
Vancouver to Prince George, and then a return trip, totalling four
Four flights meant four of everything, including the attendants’
spiels about safety, oxygen masks, and bathrooms. By the time Number
Four came around, I had memorized the French version. .
Four flights also meant that I could have four small glasses of this
or that, and either a couple of cookies or some pretzels. The other
foursome was the attempt to be friendly to my respective seatmates.
Not an easy task when we’re complete strangers, squished together for
just over an hour, per flight.
By and large, I am not good at attempting conversations with people I
don’t know, and gave up somewhere over Williams Lake. I must add that
my conversation on the third leg of the flights went along the lines
of : “Hey there, may I borrow your newspaper, please?”
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this, aren’t you?
Well, so am I.
Sitting with complete strangers for hours and hours gives pause for
reflection—and observation. And what I saw, I liked. That’s where
this “faith in humanity” comes in.
I saw married couples—you know, the veteran kind, the old-fashioned
kind (male and female)–enjoying each other. There was a touch here,
a giggle there; some holding hands here, a warm look there.
One flight had me behind a man that had obviously suffered a stroke
somewhere in his past. He was pretty gutsy, though, trying to shift
his luggage on his own terms. I saw his wife’s look of both affection
and concern with his efforts.
If I believed everything that the media and the politicians tried to
convince us of concerning the state of traditional marriage, the
normalcy of same-sex relationships, and the general deterioration of
family life, I’d lose my mind .
A plane trip can suggest otherwise.
Another encouraging observation regarding faith in humanity was the
rest of the passengers. They were all civil to each other, even
laughing with the crying baby in seat 21c. (No, wait, that was me
crying in seat 21c. The baby was in 17a.)
Again, complete strangers accommodating complete strangers, something
they would never do if they were compressed in a “mobile sardine can”
at 27,000 feet above sea level.
Humanity is intriguing that way: Crammed together for hours at a
time, it either breaks or blooms.
So, all in all, my recent flight was a great experience, as well as a
great expression of the state of society these days.
Now if they can just change the cookies and pretzels, I think things
would even be so much better.