Monday, October 23, 2006
Not much to write about lately. I wrote this post a week or so ago, posted it, unposted it, and am now reposting it in revised version. Not to disavow anything, but it strikes me that discretion is probably friendliest in the long term.
OK, I need to vent. I could probably assemble this post from selected paragraphs of other posts over the past year, but let's just rehash the same old material fresh, shall we?
The job of flying involves being stuffed with one or two other people into a broom-closet-sized space for prolonged periods, periods characterized by long stretches of silence and relative inactivity interrupted by periods of heavily-ritualized toil. This is a setting where little personality foibles and characteristics become grotesquely exaggerated, and where one inevitably learns much more about a coworker's personal life than in most jobs because there is just too much time to talk about stuff, too much silence to fill.
I have spent my whole working life (the last 12 years, anyway) surrounded by people whose global outlook is quite different from mine--not because my own views are so extraordinary but because this is a job which, for a couple reasons, attracts in unnatural proportion people of a certain psychological cast--and so it's no great strain for me to find myself paired for a couple months with someone whose views on religion or politics or whatever are different from my own. Indeed, I've become quite accustomed to this as a standard state of affairs by now. I'm not happy about never having sympathetic working companions, but I accept it (though my faith in humanity is always lifted a bit when I meet other people's coworkers and find that the knuckle-dragging bent of conservatism that characterizes my workplaces does not find easy acceptance in places where the jobs require more education).
But I'm not always able to view my situation with equanimity, most particularly when I'm confronted with a personality who is not inclined to show me the courtesy which I as a matter of course extend to others. More than this, I must come clean that I'm not always able to accept another's views as being simply elsewhere along the defensible spectrum of human perception. There are limits. And these two things together--an unwillingness to tread lightly among people whose stated views do not coincide with one's own, and a collection of especially odious personal views--coupled with the aforementioned broom-closet working environment, makes for, shall we say, an unattractive couple of working months.
All this by way of preface. What's on my mind is this recurring question: how is it possible for a person to avail themselves enthusiastically in life of all the things that science brings us--airplanes and cell phones and computers and DVDs and medicine and pasteurized food and television and radio and any of a buzillion things absolutely integral to modern life--and then thumb one's nose at that same science when it points to conclusions one doesn't like? (I'll answer my own question: this is possible when one is absolutely ignorant of the science itself and the role it has played in the things we enjoy.) More specifically, how is it OK for someone to hold firmly to a view which, like Hitler's murderous blanket indictment of Jewry, simply does not find support by any objective measure, and most particularly when that view is actively malevolent to a whole group of humanity?
Lastly, I would ask this: how does a guy who believes openly that women are second-class citizens ever get married? What woman signs up to be a servant in her primary life's relationship?
It's still maybe the most amazing job ever, but I'm rather brutally reminded occasionally that I love what I do very much in spite of, and not because of, some of the people I work with.
(I wish this venting made me feel better. Alas.)