Monday, 19 January 2009

a plane crash, a presidency, calm and karma





A picture paints a thousand words.  

In this case an out and out miracle is illustrated.  Those are people, yes people, calmly standing on the wings of an airplane that has gone down.  

As reported by the New York Times-- the emergency landing of the US Airways airbus into the Hudson RIVER (no, not a controlled emergency landing on a runway or a cornfield or a freeway but a highway of water) was as calm and effective as a text book example for future pilots might be.

There were first-hand testimonials of how the passengers seemed to pick up on the calm in which this entire near-disaster was handled.  Yes, there were some shouts by passengers on impact, but not the fear-of-imminent-death-frenzy we have all imagined happens as an airplane goes down.  I read somewhere that one passenger was quoted as saying that no one put their head between their knees-- we wanted to see what was coming.

The praise for Captain Sullenberger is unending.  The magical combination of becoming an award winning stand-out pilot at the age of 14, his meticulous attention to detail, and his voracious preparation/involvement in flight disaster prevention, as well as experience piloting gliders just may have been the lucky hand that brought these Airbus passengers home safely. 

But I personally think that the calm from which he acted trumps the other preparation. (or was he calm because he was so knowledgeable and prepared-- very well may be, still CALM was so pertinent)

One thing is clear-- calm breeds calm.  The accounts also astound when passengers report the methodical,  non hysterical exit and the near-serene stillness as they waited on the wings for rescue-- as so many of these amazing photographs show us.  And then Captain Sully calmly went into the airbus that was quickly turning into a sinking water bus, not once, but twice to make sure no passengers were left behind.  

It is a week of historically miraculous happenings.  As we see our new President of the United States get sworn into office and swept into the frenzy that is the presidency I am reminded of, how throughout his campaign calm bred calm.

You know how I try to shoot for zen?  I was embarrassed at myself during some of those Presidential debates.  When McCain was, what I considered, maliciously attacking and taking great pleasure in it, I'd find myself chanting "Keating Five, Keating Five. . ."  I couldn't fathom how, with all the negative sewage McCain plunged up and hurled at the world, Barack's team did not mention the Keating Five in public-- something that was actually a concrete example of impairment in McCain's judgment and a part of our history (forget how he met his wife and chased her around a cocktail table and or his service history and indiscretions prior to being a POW. . .  I'll stop now for I am not going down the calm breeds calm road).

But our President, the one that is Barack Obama, took the high road.  He didn't sling mud back at the slingers.  He didn't let himself be riled by the anger he might have felt when such desperate measures were attempted to discredit him.  AND, he continued to speak complimentary of his attackers; a bit reminiscent of, "forgive them Father for they know not what they do . . ."  (yes, I've heard the jokes comparing him to "the chosen one" or "the second coming" but hey-- how long has it been since you've seen a public figure emulate such kind and forgiving behavior?  in the public eye, no less?)

AND WHERE DID THAT WIMPY APPROACH GET HIM?

Yep, unless you live under a rock you know:  it caused a movement.  A movement that said, enough is enough. Hate begets hate and violence and racism, sexims, sexualityism, ageism, and all other isms.  

Change comes from within.  It comes from finding the inner calm in the outer storm.  And then Karma takes over.  

Karma:   The total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny.

Thank you President Barack Obama and Captain "Sully" for living a life of "practicing what you preach."  For knowing it would be calm and mindful planning in the face of danger and panic and history-making events that would allow you to get the results you had always been planning for; that you have been waiting to be called upon to use.

And thank you for having the inner balance and resolve that when push came to shove you weren't a person that just talked a talk (or yelled a yell for that matter).  You had the skill and presence of mind to put follow-through with actions: you walked the walk in a most miraculously effective way.

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