Respect the Journey

I was listening to the most recent “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” podcast and found myself feeling a little surprised. For those of you that don’t know, “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” (or MBMBM, pronounced ‘MuhBimBam’) is a podcast hosted by three brothers and they call it ‘an advice podcast for the modern era’, but they rarely actually give advice. Instead, they take the questions they are sent and use them as a catalyst for comedic discussions. Anyway, in the most recent podcast, they actually provided some wisdom that I’ve found myself thinking about a lot ever since.

The question they were sent is pretty irrelevant, but the advice they gave was to “Respect the journey of other people”. This advice was really two-fold. First, if what someone else is doing isn’t directly harming you then you really shouldn’t worry about it. Is someone wearing a weird shirt? Are they brushing their teeth while in a public bathroom? Do they have a whole lot of sex? Are they Mormon? It doesn’t matter… just let them live there life. Respect their journey.

Secondly, try and put yourself in their shoes, but move beyond trying to figure out how you would feel at that exact moment. Instead, try to figure out what logical things in their life lead them to that moment and try and realize that you would act in a very similar way if you grew up in the same home, had the same bad day, read the same books, were exposed to the same experiences, etc. We aren’t that different. Trying to imagine what life would have to throw at us for us to act differently can really increase our empathy for others, which is particularly important in our current era.

What life would you have to live to have a different opinion of Trump? Or support/oppose gun control? Or believe in God? It is easy to just say someone is illogical or stupid, but that gets us nowhere. That dehumanizes people we disagree with, it turns them into people to be pitied at best or hated at worst (either way, it justifies ignoring them instead of treating them with love, understanding, and respect).

We are all doing the best we can and have very similar goals in life. We want a safe place to live, an opportunity for prosperity for our loved ones, and good health. Our methods may vary based on our understanding of how the world works (or should work), but our goals are generally the same. So, before we hate Trump supporters maybe we should try and understand why someone would think Trump is the best option to lead the country and why his proposed policies are going to provide a safer, better world. Similarly, those who worry about gun control or illegal immigration should try and understand why supporters of those things think that they would create a safer, better world (and why someone would break the law to cross a border… the odds are they are doing it for their family, and wouldn’t we all break laws to provide food and shelter for our loved ones?)

Basically, respect others journies and maybe try and understand how they ended up on that journey to begin with.

First Class

On Tuesday I flew out to Denver for a work event. When I checked in at the airport I was prompted with the normal “Would you like to upgrade?” question that I normally ignore. This time, I decide to actually upgrade my ~4 hour flight from Charlotte to Denver, and it was an interesting experience. The reasons/justifications/excuses that lead me to this decision are many:

  • My other seat assignment was a middle seat
  • I’ve had a pretty good couple months of work and had the money
  • It was only ~$125
  • It’s my birth month and I wanted to treat myself
  • I kind of lack self-control

Riding up front for the first time* was a bit of a culture shock. I was unaware that drinks and food were free in the beginning and was a little cautious to partake. I also was surprised that a lot of the “rules” didn’t seem to apply, particularly when it came to stowing laptops. Apparently, if you pay enough you don’t need to stow your laptops during take-off or landing and nobody was really checking for airplane mode on cell phones and such (the lady next to me was texting until she lost signal at some point due to altitude). All this makes me wonder… are these regulations in place actually necessary for safety? If so, why would an airline risk death, lawsuits, etc.┬ájust to keep a few wealthy people happy for a few extra minutes? Is there something about stowing laptops in Couch that actually does increase safety but doesn’t apply to the front of the plane? It was all kind of confusing.

At the end of the day, I felt more comfortable on my return flights back in the rear of the plane with the plebs. Well, I wasn’t “comfortable” but I felt like I belonged, and the temptation was WAY less. I don’t know the exact reason, but I have a lot of trouble saying no to free food or drinks. I think part of it was growing up kind of poor, the idea of letting food go to waste or not fully taking advantage of the opportunities that I paid for felt blasphemous. I didn’t grow up in a family where we worried about our next meal, there was always food, but I think the psychological issues that come from growing up in that environment still manifests itself in that way. Add that to my tendency to turn to food when I’m bored or in a situation that I can’t control and it is a recipe for me gorging on food and drink, and feeling a bit of hostility towards the woman next to me who was so financially/socially comfortable that she could say no to one more drink or a dish of mixed nuts.

So, where does that leave me now? I don’t know really. It gave me some insight into my own psyche (thanks, in part, to reading “The Power of Habit” on the plane). I certainly don’t feel an urge or need to return to First Class, but I can see splurging for a ticket for special occasions like a honeymoon or something with my partner. I do feel like I got some insight into the world of the “other”, the wealthy. Planes are one of those rare places where nearly all social classes exist in a confined space and you can visibly see one group being treated significantly better than another. It isn’t just the larger seats or legroom, it is the whole demeanoir of the staff who wanted to treat us as clients instead of cattle.

Oh, and seriously, what the hell was I supposed to do with that warm cloth? I decided to wash my balls in my seat, but I don’t think that was right….

*I was actually in First Class for a flight from Cameroon to Switzerland when I was in college but I was exhausted and feel asleep after they handed me a glass of champagne. I didn’t really experience it.