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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

On LAX, Sick Pilots, and Ugly People

I had an interesting experience on my way to classes in Minneapolis. My connecting flight went through Los Angeles and was scheduled to depart at 12:00 AM. As I arrived at the gate area, I was informed that our flight had been delayed. "Delayed" was actually a nice way of saying canceled, because our flight out wasn't until 8:30 AM. Yikes.

The reason I and my fellow passengers were given for this "delay" was that the pilot had called in sick. In all the times I have flown, I have never heard of a flight being canceled for this reason. In a city the size of LA, I found it hard to believe that Delta, the nations largest airline, didn't have another pilot available. Evidently, my fellow passengers felt the same way. Sure, I was upset and disappointed myself, but being in the back of the room I had the unique opportunity to observe the reactions of others.

In a word, I would describe their reaction as ugly, in all its forms. They turned ugly in attitude, but in other ways as well. The pitch of their voice became ugly, taking on that strained, agitated tone. The lines of their faces tightened and their features distorted. A group of normal, nice people suddenly became vicious and well, ugly. The airline had wronged them, their night and their flight was ruined, and so the poor gals at the airline desk received the venting of their fury.

It made me think about how often we react this way as humans. When something goes against us, or we feel wronged, we turn ugly. I'm not entirely sure why, because if we look at these situations, rarely if ever does this kind of response make the situation better. We think that by getting angry and lashing out we can change things for the better. We operate under an illusion of control whereby we can right the wrongs and vindicate ourselves. But does this ever happen? Doesn't a turn towards ugly always make for more ugliness?

On my eventual flight out the next morning, I listened while one gal, one who had been particularly irate towards the gals at the flight counter, recounted on her cell phone the horrors of her night- canceled flight, demanding that the airline bring her bag to her in the middle of night, finding a hotel, getting stuck at the hotel the next morning- evidently her ugliness had continued. Granted, I hadn't particularly enjoyed my night on the floor at LAX, but having accepted the circumstance as one beyond my control had allowed me to maintain a certain level of peace despite the long night.

All this causes me to reflect on what Paul says in the book of Colossians, "You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony." (3:13,14- NLT) When we react like this to the mistakes of others- sick pilots, irkesome co-workers, surely spouses- rather than turning to ugly, we can display the love and the acceptance of Christ.

Why in our world is it so difficult to make allowances for other's faults? We know our own, but when we see the faults of others, we lash out.

Don't do it. Please. It makes you, and me, look very ugly.

Be beautiful today. In Christ,


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