And Then, We Go On
- By Laurie Watanabe
- May 01, 2017
AIRPLANE SEATS: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM/PAUL PRESCOTT
Ignorance can be expressed in many ways. Some of those ways are difficult
to recognize for what they truly are, because they can look like something
entirely reasonable at first.
Take, for example, a person being removed from an airplane flight
because he has a disability.
I’ve read about these situations: A flight attendant or a pilot sees that
the manifest includes someone with a
disability. Perhaps the disability is quite
visible, or it comes more into focus during
pre-boarding. What happens next?
Usually, nothing. Passengers board, the
flight takes off, it lands as scheduled.
But sometimes, an airlines employee
gets nervous: How will that passenger
manage on the plane? Will he have
difficulties mid flight? What happens if the plane needs to be evacuated in
Emergencies of that severity almost never happen. But when fear and
ignorance take over, rational thinking takes a back seat. The one-in-a-million
possibility of an emergency might be just the reasoning that an apprehensive
or harried airlines employee is looking for. Wham! The passenger with
the visible disability is kicked off the flight.
To the uninformed, that employee’s concern almost sounds reasonable.
But for every passenger with a visible disability, how many other passengers
have invisible disabilities or medical conditions? On an average flight, how
many passengers have heart conditions, known or unknown? How many
have arthritis, have “bad” knees or hips, or are obese? How many take
multiple medications? What if they have a medical issue in mid flight?
People with invisible medical conditions fly unaccosted. People with visible
disabilities, though, can seemingly be removed on a whim.
If we decide that people with disabilities must be grounded, where else
will be off limits? Trains, buses, cars? Buildings more than a single story high?
Should they not go to school, to work, to houses of worship, to movie theaters
or grocery stores in case a fire alarm goes off?
Should they just not go anywhere at all? Because that’s where “for their
own safety” ignorance would lead us.
Safety is important, and we should be responsible. We should have exit
plans from hotels, fire drills in schools, and standards when wheelchairs are
used as seating in motor vehicles.
We should do our best, and then we should live our lives, while understanding
that the world is unpredictable and that we cannot plan for every
meteor-hitting-the-earth contingency. We know we cannot control every
single thing or every variation of what could happen.
Still, we refuse to let ignorance and fear dictate our actions. We go on.
Because the alternative is much worse.
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Mobility Management.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.