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Brian Theodore

My wife and I are still visiting our daughter and my father in Oregon. On our flight, digital screens were provided on the back of seats for customers to watch movies, play games, and take part in other distractions. It helps eat up the time, and in my case, take my mind off my fear of heights. I opted for a few games of computer chess, of which I did not win a single game (stupid robot plane).

Before each renewal of the screen, Delta presented this commercial promoting the true “power of flight.” It explained how when we (humans) are born, we are more alike than diverse, and ultimately it is distance that sometimes leads us to believe we must be different from each other. The commercial explains, “It is only when we venture out into the world do we realize all the things we share.”

Now if you can get past the idea that it is a commercial, the message is slightly transcendent. As I looked up from my game, (the robot plane once again captured my queen), I beheld the plane and its occupants, and there was this communal feeling. My wife and I sat in the last seat in the right aisle, and we had full view of the sardine-like conditions of standard.

Families and loved ones, couples and lone travelers: my wife and I sat by all of these people, and I must say, I have been all of these people. There was the tired teenager beside me, unable to sit with his girlfriend, so he slept. Then there was the large uncomfortable man who eventually traded seats, and became much more agreeable after sitting next to his kids. There were many more, all in close proximity, and symbolically, I thought, “We are all on this ship together.” For a brief (five hours) time, our lives were intertwined, and we accepted it, traveling together in placid uncomfortableness.

However, Delta’s message from their inspiring communique did not stop there. The concept stuck with me as we travelled about in this strange land called Oregon. One of my favorite instances was a family of a different ethnicity than I, who sat on the transit train in Portland. They spoke a different language, but then again, they did not. There was a father, mother, their small daughter and son.

The daughter was perched precariously under her father’s protective arm and looked out inquisitively with big dark eyes as the train rattled down through town. By the end of the journey, she was sitting alone, bravely pointing out things with a curiosity I am very familiar with. The boy stayed close to home, his mother not necessarily sheltering him, but very near. They made me miss my granddaughter immensely. I felt very akin to the father, looking lovingly and protectively upon his family.

Then there was the man with the sparkling gold purse, bright pink high-top tennis shoes and a gray beard that reached to the middle of his chest. He looked like Gandalf got hit with a disco ball. He was by far one of the more interesting people we encountered. And even here, I felt this communal connection, as his voice and manners invited a sense of sincerity and politeness that is always valued.

Delta’s commercial is never going to make me choose their plane over the next cheapest ticket, but I appreciate the message. And I know there are people I do not have an affinity with, but I take strong solace in the like-mindedness of humanity as a whole.

I think this connection is why I have such a problem with our current situation regarding immigration and whatever you might perceive the problem at our border to be. I am them. I am that father that would risk anything to get his family — his children — to safety. I would be sneaky, I would beg, I would swim across cold waters if it meant saving my family from harm or enslavement. I would want to come to America, and it is hard for me to judge or persecute others who want the same.

While I know there must be laws in regard to our intake of migrants, our current system seems to have incurred a sense of resentment toward the overall situation, maybe even an acceptance of cruelty. Who are we if we ignore or consent to the suffering of others, or even cause it? We should always be the hero, the Jedi Knight, the Avenger — we should always be the good guy.

Brian Theodore is a language arts teacher at Corbin High School and lives in Corbin with his wife, who is also a teacher at CHS. He can be contacted at Theteachersdesk.theodore@gmail.com.

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