My instructor said, “Don’t just do something, sit there and fly the plane.”
I used to fly small airplanes. Used to. I don’t now. The airplanes were small and light. These aircraft were easily tossed around by turbulence. The gust that rocks you gently in a large jet will give you a quite a lurch in one of these small planes. As a student, I was surprised when the airplane moved without being told to. It made me anxious, but living with turbulence is part of learning to fly.
As a student pilot, reacting to the turbulence can often make the situation worse rather than better. A gust pushes you to the right, so you lean the aircraft back to the left. Now you get thrown even farther to the left when a gust pushes you that way. That is how you get those instructor’s words of wisdom to calm the over-reacting student-
“Don’t just do something. Sit there and fly the plane.”
Now we are finally at the point of this article. We are that student. We constantly medicate our psyche with an uncalled for reaction. We eat to control our feelings. We play with fidget spinners to calm our restless energy. We’re trying to control our unpredictable environment…and often making the situation worse. Listen to the media, and then ask yourselves if we’ve really done the right thing in the right amount at the right time. We’ve been nervous for a while.
We wanted to help poor people. We’ve started hundreds of government programs because they sounded good. We never asked if they actually leave poor people better off. We didn’t care because we’d already checked that box that said, “I help the poor.”
We gave welfare to single moms. Now we have generations of poor people who’ve grown up without a dad. That is terrible…unless you needed generations of poor people to vote for you. We didn’t care because we’d already checked that box that said, “I’m in favor of personal freedom.”
We taxed and regulated commerce in the name of fairness. Now it is almost impossible to build small, cheap homes. Housing prices soared. Today, poor people can’t afford an apartment or to start their own small businesses. If we look at what we’ve actually done, government programs increased our inequality rather than bringing opportunity.
That is the tip of the iceberg. There are many more examples below the surface.
“But we have to do… something.”
Let’s complete that sentence. “We have to do something because I don’t want to sit here watching the news and feeling bad. You’re heartless unless you help me feel better about myself.”
I guess the politicians were right. Politics was about virtue signaling all along…but let’s not pretend we’re actually helping anyone but ourselves.
Tonight, as every night, the news media will say, “But we have to do something now!” Maybe we should do something, but let’s do the right thing in the right amount at the right time and place.
Try this. Put down your fidget spinner. Get off Facebook. To misquote my instructor, “Don’t just do something. Sit there until you know what to do.” Knock off the caffeine. Go take a walk and calm down. If you want to make a better world, then learn what works. Go read a book and learn from our million man-years of experience.
I’m serious as can be. If we did nothing, then at least we would stop making things worse by our overreaction. This little thing is a big deal. Being patient would have an impact around the world. For starters, we could stop being manipulated by every politician and talking head on the TV. We can stop being stampeded into stupid political decisions and our politicians would stop making bad suggestions just to get noticed. That would be earth shattering in the era of 24-hour, 144-character news.
When it comes to living your life, you know more than anyone else. Be still and live it. You are the expert. Like the new student flying the small plane, the world will continue on despite the bumps…if we let it.
I gave you 600 words. Please leave a comment.