Fight or Flight
If this incident were not confirmed by the airline, it could easily pass for fake news. Apparently, two pilots flying a commercial flight full of passengers faced the “fight or flight” question mid-flight in the cockpit, and chose “fight.” According to an AP report, “Two Air France pilots were suspended after physically fighting in the cockpit on a Geneva-Paris flight in June, an Air France official said Sunday.” Worse yet, they could not stop fighting until “cabin crew intervened and one crew member spent the flight in the cockpit with the pilots.” Thanks to the intervention of the crew, the plane landed safely.
There is more from that airline. The AP report also describes an incident of “a fuel leak on an Air France flight from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo to Paris in December 2020.” The pilots rerouted the plane, “but didn’t cut power to the engine or land as soon as possible, as leak procedure requires. The plane landed safely in Chad, but [France’s air investigation agency] warned that the engine could have caught fire.”
I wonder what more it might take for us to realize that our egos have taken over our lives, manipulate our common sense, and lead us to a disaster. If people who are responsible for hundreds of lives each day cannot control their petty egos and are willing to waste not only their own lives, but the lives of hundreds of people under their responsibility, who can we trust?
How many more disasters and wars will it take before we realize that we are our own worst enemy, that we must correct our ego? Will we do it only when tragedy touches us personally? In all likelihood, by that time, it will be too late to correct ourselves because we will not be around to do it. Should we not start now, while we are still here and can change ourselves?
The only way to correct the growing mutual dislike is to acknowledge that our enemy is not our co-pilot, or any other challenger, for that matter, but our own ego. And the only way to fight the ego is to strive to connect precisely with my challenger. In other words, anything that the ego paints as bad, I divert it toward the good.
I know this is not easy; I know it sounds impossible; but I also know that it sounds impossible because the ego wants us to think it is impossible. Once we begin to work on it together, we will discover that nothing is easier and more enjoyable than bonding with other people.
I wonder what the passengers on that flight would have thought had they known what was happening in the cockpit while they felt safe and carefree. I wonder what they think now that they know about it. But most of all, I hope this unbelievable story becomes a wake-up call that demonstrates just where the ego can take us if we let it make our choices for us.