Can One Bag of Peanuts Change the World?

On a recent flight on Southwest Airlines they made an announcement that there would be no peanuts served, and for anyone who might have a peanut product in their possession to please not open it during the flight, because there was someone on board with a peanut allergy. Fairly straight-forward procedure. In order to protect the safety of a passenger who has a severe allergic reaction to peanuts, the airline makes the correct decision to prohibit anyone on the plane from having any type of product that might release peanut dust in to the air that could be carried throughout the cabin and potentially endangering someone’s life.

Seems quite reasonable.

(Of course it occurred to me this might be just a cost-saving measure to avoid having to distribute several hundred bags of peanuts on our flight. Those things are pricey.)

I think the airline did what it should do, which was to put the safety of their passengers above all else–all of their passengers. They knew that the other two hundred passengers on board would happily give up the joy of tearing into a bag of delicious, warm nuts in order that one fellow passenger remain absolutely safe. In fact, there wasn’t a person on board who might’ve dreamed of complaining.

It represents life, as it should be.

So why, when we’re back on the ground, does this principle not apply?

Case in point. Elections are looming. And after this presidential election, there will always be more elections for people in positions of power who make laws. Somewhere in the hearts of all these people, I know that they are concerned about each and everyone of us. Just like those who support individual candidates truly want the best for all. Yet, for some reason, the idea that we might actually make a sacrifice and deny ourselves something we want for the benefit of another person–perhaps a fellow passenger we’ve never met, seems to go right out the window when it comes to voicing our opinions on who should or should not lead our country and make our laws.

I’m a big proponent of human rights. I love the human race. It’s the only race worth being part of. Yet it confounds me that there are people who are so hell bent on having things their way, that they will endanger the very lives of others.

Maybe it’s because here on the ground, we feel relatively safe. When we’re all up 30,000 feet in a metal tube and some rough turbulence hits, we look to one another and are reminded of our common fate. Should something go wrong, we’re likely to all end up on the ground together very quickly…  if we’re lucky, it might be on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific, waiting for a search party to come rescue us.

The idea that we will make a small sacrifice (in this case, a bag of peanuts we would generally otherwise enjoy) in order to protect a fellow passenger seems insignificant. Of course we will make this sacrifice. It’s a no-brainer. Let’s carry on with the flight.

Back on the ground, it’s a different story.

 – Will you be so quick to overlook the comfort of your views on marriage so that a gay couple can maintain visitation rights, health insurance, and all the other benefits of legalized marriage?

– Will you be so quick pay a higher tax to support universal healthcare, or insist that only people who can afford insurance be allowed access to the best medical care?

– Will you be so quick to overlook a long-standing idea that abortion is immoral, so that a young woman be granted the right to choose her own destiny, no matter what the circumstance she became pregnant?

– Will you be so quick to welcome refugees from war-torn countries into your hometown, or simply insist that illegal immigrants should be denied citizenship?

These are just some basic issues. Not saying what is right, or what is wrong (except for anyone opposed to legalizing gay marriage).

The point is, if you were asked to make a small sacrifice in your beliefs or in your life in order to create a change that might help someone, most of us would turn the other way. If it doesn’t directly affect us, or our family, we generally don’t care. We rarely choose to listen to the opposition’s viewpoint. They can’t be right… they’re the opposition! It’s just human nature.

Take that same issue when your own fate is not so certain and ask that a small sacrifice be made, and I bet you would… if you were 30,000 feet in the air, and the oxygen masks suddenly flew down from the ceiling and your plane started hurtling downwards at alarming speeds… I bet you’d do whatever it took, or say whatever you needed to say to your fellow human, in the hope that your plane leveled off and landed safely.

So let’s start to do it on the ground too.

Think of everyone you meet not as an enemy, or someone whose opinions and beliefs are so distant from yours you can’t possible see life from their eyes. Think of them as a fellow passenger on the very same air craft as you… planet Earth.

We’re all heading to the same destination eventually. Why make others suffer needlessly?

Yup, all that from being denied a bag of nuts. (Imagine what might’ve happened if they told me I couldn’t use my Kindle on the flight.)


Author of Please Hug Me–I’ve Been Delayed
The greatest book on air travel ever written




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