Red Flag

There is a thing going around on FB right now, a sort of meme, likening Trump to a pilot, that is bothering me and it’s not because I find it to be a poor analogy, although I think it is. (The whole premise hinges on the pilot being an unknown person and whatever your opinion on the man, Trump is most certainly known.) The origin piece itself is rather mild, but the variations that have followed it are less so. There is a less of a focus on the unknown pilot and more on the behavior of the other people on the plane. The message seems to be this: if we keep questioning the pilot, the plane is going to crash and everybody is going to die.


This is what bothers me. It has, in fact, been bothering me since I saw the first one. Because it strongly implies that dissent is destruction. Some memes even imply that dissent is a DESIRE for destruction. That protesters want the plane to crash out of a spiteful need to be right. That especially worries me because that appears to be equating protest with, at best, schadenfreude on a national level and, at worst, terrorism and I just don’t think that is where the protesters are coming from. I know that’s not my motivation.


The interesting thing about using this analogy though is how very apt it is for the PROTESTING side of things. Here’s why:


For the last twenty years or so, the airplane industry has been using a training program called Crew Resource Management, or CRM for short. A large component of CRM deals with hierarchical structures and the issue of questioning authority. Basically, if the pilot is doing something wrong, it is the responsibility of the co-pilot and crew to point it out, to “wave a red flag”. Speaking out is encouraged and facilitating an environment where people feel safe to do so is essential.


So, if Trump is our pilot, and we Americans are the crew (I choose not to label us as passengers) then according to aviation safety standards, I have a duty to point out possible concerns. I need to watch the gauges that might indicate a problem. I need to make sure we don’t run out of fuel. And maybe other people don’t share my concerns or don’t see things the same way I do. That’s okay. But if I think something’s wrong, I need to say something. Because I really don’t want the plane to crash. I don’t want the pilot to fail. I don’t want us to veer so far off course that we end up in a country we don’t recognize anymore. And until I feel like we’re no longer in danger of that, I have to express my doubts and voice my concerns because it is the only avenue left to me. So, I’m going to keep pointing out warning lights. I’m going to keep an eye out for ice on the wings. I’m going to keep waving that red flag.



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