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  • Cindy Lee

Wisdom from airlines

Whew, it’s been a busy season of traveling in and out of the country since August, but I was with my husband so it was time very well spent. Feels like work always more than doubles in business travel, so it’s nice to be home.

The routine takeoff announcements always seem to blow past me since I can almost memorize them and they take so much time translating in multiple languages. But on the way to Madrid something stood out. I was listening intently to practice my Spanish, and that’s when I heard it — the wise advice on LIFE:

If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.

This is because while putting on their mask first, you may fall unconscious, be unable to help either of you, and you’ll both end up in trouble… also leaving the greater community with two people to then worry about.

There’s a reason they point that out — we’re instinctually wired for survival and are often raised to help those in need. Society teaches us both sides: to be thoughtful and considerate and to serve others, while also to look out for number 1 (yourself) to survive. We can debate forever about which is “right” or “wrong” and still not reach a collective conclusion.

Thankfully, the airlines make it clear in the case of an emergency, when there’s no time for debate. They say it EVERY time to remind us that we need to take care of ourselves first in order to adequately care for the other person who is depending on us. It’s the truth; we can’t help someone if we’ve passed out and lost consciousness.

When the airlines say it, it’s not a moral issue… it’s a practical and safety issue. I’ve heard this same announcement every time I’ve traveled for the past 30 years, so nobody has successfully convinced the FAA that their instruction is wrong yet.

So can we apply the same wisdom to our every day lives? I can list countless stories of men and women who I’ve met that with the best of intentions sacrifice themselves for worthy causes — community, family, children, work. Now, I’m not talking about sacrificing luxuries here; too often we diminish the importance of our own health and well-being with respect to others’. And sadly, many of these stories end up in burnout, regret, resentment…

On the moral side, we each must come to our own convictions about this, and I’ll save that discussion for a later time. So without focusing on the moral aspect, what can we glean as immediately helpful and practical insight?

If you’re traveling through life with a child, serving the needs of the community, taking care of anyone requiring assistance – take care of yourself before/while taking on the survival of the other person. By putting on your own mask first, you become better able to provide care to those who are depending on you.

I’ll share tips at another time about how this looks, because in reality the tricky part is finding the balance between serving others & taking care of self, or as Scripture teaches us, considering others more important while also honoring your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. We’ll get into the moral and the Scriptural implications at that time…!

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