365 days, flying, and the definition of impossibility

November 3, 2016 by Joshua
in Nature, Perception

I’ve been asking people lately

When was the last time 365 days passed in your life without flying?

Interesting question? Most people I ask can’t remember, so it’s probably been decades.

Several people have commented that it would be “impossible” to go a year without flying.

That’s an odd use of the word “impossible” that says more about them than you’d think.

The Wright brothers first flew in 1903. Before then, most people considered heavier-than-air flight “impossible” based on physics. They may have been wrong, but I get that use of “impossible.”

113 years later the direction of impossibility switched, as did the basis. Now people base the impossibility on their feelings.

I have no problem with people basing their ideas of possibility on their feelings, but their actions affect the rest of us. Flying pollutes, sea levels are rising, and you know other results of global warming. You can bet they apply the same reasoning elsewhere in life.

Put simply:

People believe it is impossible for them to stop polluting, even for something that no human did barely a century ago and that was luxury for most in the meantime.

As I’ve said, Everybody cares about the environment until they want to see the Eiffel Tower. Our behavior is causing hurricanes to become more violent and frequent and all the other effects of global warming. Believing stopping that behavior is impossible when it blatantly is possible is part of the problem.

I chose to work in leadership because the biggest problems we face are social and behavioral—the domain of leadership. I’m shocked at the entitlement people express for their “Eiffel Towers.” I also feel compassion for their depending on externalities for their happiness. My experience has shown me that not depending on things like airplanes improves my life by my standards more, and decreases my polluting others’ worlds.

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4 responses on “365 days, flying, and the definition of impossibility

  1. Pingback: Can you use my frequent flyer miles? | Joshua Spodek

  2. Pingback: Why I turned down nearly $10,000 to teach for an Ivy League school for a week in Shanghai | Joshua Spodek

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