Please Take Care of the Children

Three simple thoughts from sitting on a plane in China…

When giving the safety instructions — first in Chinese, then in English — the flight attendants on Air China routinely include the phase, “Please take care of the children.” How different that sounds than the American directive, “Put your own mask on first, then assist others.” Hmmm! What would it be like if we more regularly and routinely heard ourselves saying, “Please take care of the children.”?

How gently and generously we must enter another culture and contextualize our own! On a flight from Beijing to Shanghai I overheard a man in the row behind explaining an intervention he made at a business reception the evening before. His hosts were about to open a bottle of champagne with a cork screw. Even with the best of intentions, we often don’t understand what we are doing. Gracious humility goes a long way.

On the same flight from Beijing to Shanghai we did not even begin the boarding process until the scheduled time of departure. Once everyone was seated and buckled-up we then sat on the runway for an additional hour and fifteen minutes. Why? The extreme pollution blanketing the city decreased visibility to a few hundred yards. This was more than an annoying inconvenience. It was a stark reminder that we are literally choking ourselves with inaction on climate change.

Yes, what would it be like if we more regularly and routinely heard ourselves saying, “Please take care of the children.”?

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