These, I have decided, are the three scariest words in the English language. The crash landing of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River happened a mere 5 minutes after takeoff, and I’m sure when everyone on board heard those words they were convinced they were going to die. But due to the quick thinking, and ultimately, the skill of the pilot, everyone lived.
Here’s the question. Is the pilot, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, a hero? In my view, absolutely. But I once got into a debate, which turned into an argument, about the meaning of heroism. (Here’s my definition of debate versus argument: a debate is people freely expressing differing views, with respect for the person with the opposing view. An argument is when extraneous kitchen-sink issues start being tossed in. Name-calling is not far behind. When debate turns into argument, I withdraw from the field.)
This debate-turned-argument started because I expressed the opinion that utility workers who come in to restore power to people after disasters like hurricanes and ice storms are heroic. My opponent said, “They’re doing their jobs, and they get paid for it.”
If that’s the definition, then I guess Captain Sullenberger isn’t a hero either. I suspect if asked (and I haven’t heard any interviews with him), he would say something similar. That he isn’t a hero and was just doing his job. But with a little more caution and less confidence, a little less split-second decision-making, and a lot less physical skill at wielding an aircraft with no power, 155 people would have died.
So maybe there needs to be a different word to describe it rather than heroism.
But I’ve been thinking that “Brace For Impact” should be the new slogan of the Obama administration, replacing “Yes We Can”. We’re constantly being reminded that things will get worse before they get better.
After Brace For Impact, the three other scariest words this week were “Peanut Butter Recall”. I was pretty sure I was going to starve, since peanut butter and ice cream are my emergency foods of choice. But thankfully, peanut butter in jars is so far safe. Still…no cheese crackers with peanut butter from the vending machine? Ack.
On CBS News tonight, the former head of the FDA said that drug safety has been a priority of the agency forever, when clearly food safety is a higher priority. Everybody eats.
President Obama (it feels good to say that) has to pilot us back to safety. I haven’t seen much mention of it, but to me, the most important thing he said was that we should not be asking how big or how small government is, but whether it’s working. It’s time to make it work.