Where Are We Going?

Early in my aviation career, I dated a girl whose father was a pilot and an attorney. He was notoriously scatter-brained. She once told me a story about him that at the time it seemed unbelievable. He had pre-flighted the airplane, started it, taxied out and took off. In a few minutes, he called via radio (this was many years before cell phones) and asked the flight office to call his office and let him know when they were on the line. They did and informed him the office was on the phone. He then asked, “Would you please ask them where I am supposed to be going this morning”? Here is a man who had so much going on in his mind he could not keep up with a simple yet very pertinent fact, where he was going. He had a plane, fuel, the knowledge to fly, yet he neglected probably THE most important aspect of the trip, the destination.

This story came back to me yesterday as I was listening to Glenn Beck and he posed the question: Where are we going? To be honest, I’m not sure if very many have considered this essential question. We often confuse the destination with the map or another aspect of the venture. I love to fly and sometimes it is enjoyable to fly with no destination other than looking at the scenery and fly around for awhile before landing back at your home airport. However the vast majority of the time, we are actually going somewhere and the plane or car or train is simply the vehicle to the destination, they are not the destination.

I have often used the metaphor of a train wreck to describe our national crisis. The bridge ahead is out and we are speeding along without a care as to the reality of physics, believing that we will hurdle over the precipice and simply because of who we are, nothing untoward will happen. Maybe we have blinded ourselves and do not even see the broken bridge. I suppose that as a pilot, the idea of a train wreck is more palatable than a plane crash, yet I have no desire to experience either. And I have no desire to experience a national one. Once again, the wreck is not the destination. The wreck is what happens on the way TO the destination.

Imagine going to the airport with no destination in mind, you have just decided you are going somewhere. Maybe you are tired, or upset, your boss or spouse have said something unkind, you want to get away. You pick the airline because you like the color of their planes, or their logo, or slogan. You walk to the counter, “I’d like to buy a ticket”. “Certainly, where will you be traveling to today?” You reply, “I saw your pretty planes and I just love your slogan! I just decided to go with you!” The ticket agent is not especially amused and asks, “Your destination?” “I understand your airline flies the newest and best-equipped planes, do they have the internet?” “Yes, our planes are the newest of any airline and yes they do have internet available for an additional charge. What is your destination?” I could carry this on for some time, but you get the point.

As a captain for United Airline I never once got in the cockpit and did not know my destination. As a passenger, I’m certain you never got on a plane and did not know where it was going. They have boards up at the airport with lists of destinations! Again I ask, where are we going?Would it be safe to assume in a nation this large and diverse that there is more than one destination as we find at the airport? We also must understand that just as there is mass confusion at the airport, especially with weather delays, we must reach some sort of consensus as to destinations. I suggest in reality there are three distinct destinations people strive to reach; Liberty, Oppression, and Utopia. I’d also suggest that Utopia and Oppression are the same destinations, just different sides of the fence.

Socialism, Free Market, Capitalism, Communism, Conservativism, Progressivism … all these are vehicles, not destinations. Presidents and other politicians are not destinations, they are your pilots. Returning to the days of Reagan is not a destination. Returning to the Constitution, adopting the Communist Manifesto or Rules for Radicals are not destinations, they are maps. A successful flight takes many things to accomplish in attaining the goal. We typically see the pilot and the plane, possibly the fuel truck, but there is much that is behind the scenes. Airports are built, navigation equipment, weather observation and forecast, charts, routes, air traffic control, baggage handlers, ticket agents and so on. The successful flight requires all of these things working together toward the same goal.

Looking at things in this way, it is a wonder we are not in a much larger mess! It is a real testament to the Constitutional Republic given us by our founders.The Republic is not the destination, it is the vehicle or mechanism by which we reach the destination. Perception is often not reality. Many today would say we are free, we have the liberty our Constitution was designed to deliver. I would say, are we really free to choose the healthcare we want? Our doctor? Our light bulb, toilet, car, etc? We are free to choose what our government tells us we may have. As a parent, I used to give my children options. Why? Control. They were children, I needed to control their choices for financial, health, safety and other reasons. So were they free, at liberty to seek their own desires?

I listed oppression as a destination, however not many understand that is their destination … and I would put many “conservatives” in that group as well. We’re told how people love their Medicare and Social Security (the very name reminds us we have exchanged liberty for security). They love it because all other options have been taken away. As I mentioned in my last article on taxes, politicians are looking at ways to control 401K accounts, and you are not allowed to pay for your care if you are old enough to be on Medicare. You are forced to be a ward of the state as if you were a child. Utopia is a destination that is only attainable by riding a Unicorn there, and both are make-believe.

Utopia is a facade that covers the oppression that lies within. While I am a supporter of Ted Cruz for president, I still view him with skepticism. He talks a good game and I like what I see. It is not that I have a reason to question HIS motives, I question ALL. I subscribe to Thomas Jefferson’s statement, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”

The plane we are on has multiple pilots, represented by local, state and federal politicans,  and each one may be flying to a different destination. As passengers, it is our responsibility to make sure we know where we want to go and that all the pilots have the same itinerary.

I recall one flight when the gate agent made the final call on the flight before closing the door, welcoming all on the flight to Portland, OR. One lady jumped up, “Wait…OREGON???? I’m going to Portland, Maine!” If you discover your plane and pilot are taking you someplace you are not willing to go, it is best for you to get off now. Don’t fall for the fancy paint scheme, for the flashy logo or the catchy slogan. You may end up someplace you don’t want to be and really do not like.


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