Have you ever been on a plane and listened to the safety announcements? I know, when you are a regular air passenger, you get into the habit of blocking out the safety announcements because they are always the same and always boring.
But let's see how well you have listened the first time.
What do you do when the cabin pressure drops? Yes, yes you grab the oxygen mask that drops out and put it over your mouth so that you can continue breathing. And only then do you help the passenger next to you with his or her oxygen mask, even if it is a child or a frail person.
There was a recent incident where a plane rapidly lost air pressure and the oxygen masks were dropped to the passengers. Everyone survived – and in true human tradition, everyone complained like hell and without thinking, even though they survived. Why did they complain? Because the oxygen masks 'were not working' and the staff 'did not tell them what was going on'.
Did you know that when you use that oxygen mask on the plane, there isn't a blast of oxygen? There is a soft flow, like a breath. That soft, gentle flow of oxygen is enough to keep you alive. Without that oxygen you will lose consciousness within twelve seconds and asphyxiate soon after.
And it is because of that short time span that you need to put on your oxygen mask first, and then help the person next to you. If you focus on first struggling with someone else's oxygen mask, you will lose consciousness very quickly and be of no use to anyone.
And guess what? The staff members on the plane are also human, and the same rule holds for them as well. They must also grab the nearest oxygen mask within twelve seconds or lose consciousness. And because the staff can be anywhere on the plane, there are additional oxygen masks above the seats throughout the plane. Staff members do not need to run anywhere for air when timing is so crucial.
That means that staff members probably will often not be near any public announcement system so that they can state the bleeding obvious, namely that the plane is losing air pressure and people must use the oxygen masks.
The pilots are also subject to the same timeframe of twelve seconds, and if they have to choose between staying conscious to get the plane down safely on the one hand, and keeping passengers informed of every move on the other hand, I know what I would expect them to do.
We often have a similar ungrateful approach to our faith.
We expect massive one-off miracles as proof of the existence of God and completely ignore the hundreds of small miracles that we encounter every day.
We like to complain about the few things that 'go wrong' and ignore the many things that go right.
We love to find someone else that we can blame for the 'lack' of a massive miracle in our lives, and we take all the miracles that come our way every day for granted without acknowledging them and feeling gratitude for them.
And above all, we are so concerned about others that we forget to look after ourselves first. If you are in any relationship of any kind – if you are a parent or spouse or child or friend or colleague, you will know what I am talking about.
How often do we feel that we sacrifice for a job or for another person and we do not get anything back in return? Our children do things that disappoint and shock us, despite the way we brought them up and sacrificed for them. We do not get that promotion despite putting in long hours and sacrificing home life. Our friends are too busy to do things with us that will make us feel good, or they go their own way after we had sacrificed to keep the friendship going.
And we get tired of giving and sacrificing, and we receive nothing in return. And someone is to be blamed for that.
Guess whose fault is it when we get too tired to keep giving to others? It is our own fault.
So many traditions focus on giving to others first. They never think that when a jug is empty, there is nothing to pour out from it. An empty jug needs to be filled up.
How do we fill up ourselves so that we can give from abundance rather than from sacrifice? We have a regular time for doing the things we love, so that we can focus on experiencing joy. We have fun with our loved ones – at times having fun is far more important that cleaning the house or going to work. Three hours of fun and laughter are worth far more than eight hours of earning an income, because fun and laughter also improves our health.
We need to acknowledge that God is there for us – all the time, like the oxygen that we breathe in all day. We like to think that God is there for our crises, and yes, He is, but that is because He is there for us all the time. God is there having fun with us during the good times, and carrying us during the bad times.
I once heard that an atheist is a person who has no invisible source of support. And someone else said that for those who believe, no proof is necessary, while for those that do not believe, no proof will ever be enough.
Are you one of the people that grab the oxygen mask, survive, and then complain that the oxygen mask did not work as expected? Or are you one of the people that think of yourself first, keep breathing, and then help others because you enjoy doing so and because you are grateful for the opportunity?
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