Dave Richards for January 15th…………….
--Today is the 10th anniversary of the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson” when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, on a routine passenger flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina used his experience and gifts of cool-headedness to save the lives of all aboard that aircraft by landing it on the surface of the Hudson River instead of crash landing it on the way to another airport.
As you will remember, moments after taking off from LaGuardia, Flight 1549 accidentally flew at hundreds of miles per hour into a flock of geese, several of which were sucked into the air intake of the two jet engines and which disabled both. Repeated attempts to re-start the engines met with failure. A “MayDay” message was radioed to air-traffic controllers who suggested possible airports nearby for an emergency landing. But despite their best efforts, “Sully” knew that without either engine running, the aircraft had insufficient altitude to reach even the closest airport. Rather than risk killing people on the ground as well as all aboard the aircraft, he made the decision to glide down to the surface of the river and hope for the best. He put the fewest number of people in peril.
Well, it worked. Nobody on the ground died and 155 passengers survived to write books and do TV interview shows. As his reward, Captain Sullenberger was brought before an inquest of the National Transportation Safety Board charging that he should have at least tried to make it to an airport and not risk the lives of the passengers and destroy an aircraft. The result was an acquittal of the charges and agreement that under the unique circumstances which existed, “Sully” somehow ignored all the alarms and buzzers and blinking lights and made the right decision. Put another way, when faced with A. B. or C. to choose from, he chose D. And it worked.
Today would be a good day, I think, to resolve that in a world where the available choices don’t do what needs to be done, we will make the hard choice not offered.
--Another person who did this was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When the world gave him choices which did not move humanity forward, he chose another path. He chose a path of peaceful resistance. Surely, not all was peaceful around him, and he died from a bullet fired in anger and hatred, but in a world which gave him and his people the choice to suffer as second-class citizens or to hate and kill, Dr. King chose to love and peacefully demonstrate what was wrong that had to be made right.
Relations between the races still are not as he would have wanted them to be. Perhaps it is because he was taken from us at such a young age. Perhaps because some who remain aren’t trying hard enough.
Our society celebrates birthdates, not because they are important by themselves, but because they are a convenient way for others to say they are glad you’re alive. And truly…….what nicer thing can you say to another human being than that you are glad they live and that they mean something to you?
--One of the news stories on the wire yesterday is the teachers’ strike in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Teachers there are walking the picket lines, unhappy that their demands for a more than six percent raise and reduced class sizes have not been met. Geez. They should try working as a teacher here in Woonsocket. Negotiations here have been going on for more than a year as the workers try to regain what they gave back to the city when Woonsocket was in financial trouble, and yet the Woonsocket Teachers’ Guild is not striking. There are two good reasons for this. First, strikes by teachers are illegal in Rhode Island, and the members of the WTG want to respect the law. Second, there is a real sense of hope that this labor impasse will end soon.
I had the chance to talk to Teachers’ Guild President Jeff Partington last week. He told me that since the election of the new school committee and the replacement of the appointed panel, several members of the municipal side of the negotiating teams have been replaced, new members are getting up to speed on the history of the negotiations and Jeff said that even this week serious work is being done to achieve a compromise and agreement.
Jeff also told me that dozens of items in the negotiations have already been agreed to. The few that remain are the tough ones, basically financial, and his sense of optimism is based on the attitude he sees from those on the other side of the table. He doesn’t expect easy agreement on the last items, but he sees a spirit of “how do we get this done?” instead of “it ain’t gonna happen”.
So, with two sides in the disagreement now seemingly dedicated to finding a way to agree in some way and to some extent, I feel a sense of hope as well.
--That’s what I think. What do you think? Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or postal comments can be mailed to Dave Richards, c/o WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. Thanks for reading.