A Parable

There was a man who needed to take a trip for business. It was a very long trip that would take him over many miles and cross several seas. And this was a problem. Because this man hated flying in airplanes, he was scared to death of them. So he looked into driving as far as he could and then checked on the price of ferries to get him across the water. But it was too expensive and too slow. Dismayed, the man buoyed his courage and bought a plane ticket.

When the time came, the man boarded the airplane and took his seat (and a Xanax). Soon he fell asleep to the dull hum of the engines and forgot all about his previous fears. That is, until he was startled awake by an oxygen mask knocking him in the face. As he woke up he heard the frantic voice of the captain giving instructions to the flight crew as they prepared for an emergency water landing. This is it, he thought, this is what I most feared, I knew this would happen to me. Somehow, this man was able to conquer his fear and keep his wits about him. When the plane finally crashed into the sea he was able to climb out of a window exit, use his seat cushion as a flotation device, and was eventually rescued by the Coast Guard. In the end he was one of twelve survivors of a crash that claimed the lives of 147 people – including the captain.

The experience of this event changed the mans life and convinced him that air travel was indeed unsafe. He told his horrifying story to anyone who would listen, including several friends who were powerful politicians and lobbyists. Convinced by his story, they arranged to have him testify before the supreme court at hearing about FAA safety regulations. At the hearing, the man told his story and pleaded with the judges to shut down air travel all together. He said, “It is too dangerous an enterprise – I know its convenient and that shutting down airlines will ruin vast portions of our economy. But I ask you, is it worth it? If I and everyone on that plane had just driven our own cars instead of flying there would be 147 people still alive today.”

And by some miracle, they listened to him. Overwhelmed by his harrowing story of fear and loss they banned all air travel. And many people celebrated with him.

Because of the success of this man, many more people began driving their own cars wherever they needed to be – there was now no other option. With many more people on the roads, there were many more accidents. And many more fatalities. Road travel already had more fatalities than air travel when air travel was banned, and now the number of deaths and injuries from car accidents multiplied. There was hardly a night that the evening news didn’t have a story about a fatal car accident – and they seemed to be getting worse and worse.

Yet, despite all of this, people remembered the story of the man and they felt safer knowing that in a crazy, dangerous world like ours – when they sat behind the wheel of their own car, they were in charge of their own destiny.

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