Politics and a Fear of Flying, by guest Author Kitty Stallings
I am afraid to fly. I know all of the statistics about how safe it is and that it’s the only way to travel if you’re going a long distance. I know all of that. It’s of little use to me when I’m sitting in my seat on a plane barreling down the runway and I’m shaking like a leaf as I feel the wheels lift off the ground. I know that for the next few hours I cannot stop the plane and get off. I want to scream or cry but I also know that the TSA will never let me fly again if I do that! I’m caught in a fear of flying and a fear of not being allowed to fly! Crazy but true.
Sometimes we cannot control the fears we have. Ask anyone who has to give a speech and has a fear of public speaking. No one in the audience is “against” them. Quite the opposite, yet they shake like a leaf. I do not have that fear. I come from a performing background and have sung the national anthem at a sold out sporting event; I’ve sung on TV several times and have been the guest on many TV shows. Not a nerve twitched in me during those events.
But I find myself constantly afraid now and I’m not boarding a plane. I’m sitting in my living room writing this piece to share with you all. There’s a knot in my stomach similar to when I do fly, but there’s no way to stop and get off. I feel trapped on a plane and I might be stuck this way for four years.
One of the ways I cope when I’m flying is I observe the Pilot, if I get a chance to see him/her when I board, and the Flight Attendants as they serve drinks and snacks throughout the flight. They look so happy and calm. I absolutely LOVE it when the Pilot will ask us to look out the window because the Grand Canyon is below, or if we have turbulence he tells us to fasten our seatbelts and he will get us through the rough air as soon as possible. The sound of his voice helps me because I know that a grown up is in charge and he knows what he’s doing. He could be drunk as a skunk in the cockpit but if he speaks to the passengers it ALWAYS calms me down. I usually let the Flight Attendants know how grateful I am for their upbeat attitude. They tell me that I am not alone and that this is part of their job. Many people are afraid to fly and they know that. This knowledge usually makes me feel better too. I’m not the only “fraidy cat”.
There are many people in the country, like me right now, that are afraid. We are fearful of a Trump Presidency and what that will mean. His lack of experience and erratic behavior are unsettling to us.
I will not defend his positions. I did not vote for him, but he will be President. We only have one President at a time and as much as I hear people saying “he will not be my President”, he will be the President of the United States of America, so now we need to figure out what to do with that knowledge.
I have a couple of suggestions and the first one has to do with fear. I have friends and family who voted for Trump and many of them are not dumb rednecks. They are successful, smart people who, for the life of me, I cannot imagine why they did vote for him – but they did. They are my Flight Attendants on this four year journey. I look at them and try to calm myself down by telling myself, “They are not afraid and don’t believe the worst will happen.” Some on my side of this situation focus on the toothless rednecks and the KKK members who support Trump. They exist and it’s your choice to lump all Trump supporters into that group. But they are not all in that group. Just like all Democrats are not all Liberal in their political views. There are Conservative Democrats and some may have missing teeth.
I have stopped reading or watching sensational news. I read the LA Times for my news and I watch the Daily Show for levity. During the election I watched so much 24 hour news it’s a wonder my eyeballs didn’t fall out! But I cannot do that anymore and remain sane, or unafraid and I cannot survive for four years with this pit in my stomach.
I have also decided to DO something instead of waiting around for someone else to do something. I have called the Democratic Party in the state where I was born, which is solid Red, and asked what can I do? They were extremely grateful and want to work with me. I have friends and relatives there and I will try to get the voters who didn’t vote, out for the midterms.
I suggest everyone do something, anything, even if it’s just walk next door to your neighbor’s house and ask them if they voted. If they voted for Donald Trump, don’t be shocked. Instead be kind and curious. Why did they? We might all learn something here.
I’m on Facebook, too, and more than once I’ve seen posts about the ignorance of the people who voted for Trump. There’s ignorance on our side too, so a suggestion is to also stop pointing fingers. No one likes to be called stupid.
The suggestion of sending in donations to Planned Parenthood in the name of a family member who opposes it, might seem great when you first hear it. But, ask yourself this, “Do I want to burn the bridge to my sister or brother or mother of father – forever?” To send a donation in the name of Mike Pence is one thing, he’s a public figure and you have the right to protest his positions, but I hear people saying they are doing this to their own families. Will that help them understand you? Or will the chasm between you simply grow wider. Think about that. What if someone in your own family donated money to the NRA in your name? Would it bring you closer together or further apart? We should be building bridges and not burning them.
We need cool, thought inspiring heads right now. We need a Pilot or a Flight Attendant to reassure us that the plane (country) is not going down. We also need to be one of those cool heads!
When I was first approached to write this blog, I asked if I could do it anonymously. I didn’t want to stir anything up with my own family. I hope to have written this in a thoughtful way so I help my Liberal and Conservative friends and family see more than their own side. So, I decided to use my own name for this blog. I hope I don’t regret it, but the times they are a changin’ and I too need to step up. I believe strongly in more than just my own Party. I believe in America, the country of a million ideas, beliefs and more than one Political Party.
I hope America is like air travel. It’s very reliable, even when the air is rough.
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