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Saturday, June 15, 2013


#blog #vlog #opinion #fathersday #avgeek #aviation

An essay...



Note:  The following is an opinion article submitted to the Wall Street Journal on 16 May, 2013.*


Southern California.  Inspired by his airline pilot uncle, a young 19 year old man plots with excitement his first solo cross country in an airplane.

Boston, Massachusets.  Inspired by his radical Muslim big brother, a young man plots with excitement to bomb the Boston Marathon.

Two young, impressionable men.  Barely adults.  Both with role models.  And both on wildly different paths.

How does this happen?  Where did we go wrong?  And how do we fix it?

As a father of three, grandfather of two, and an airline pilot who blogs about his adventures, I have unwittingly found myself in another roll—that of role model.  I do not take lightly this newfound position.  As they say in Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  As we all know.

Or do we?

Long before Charles Barkley declared, "I am not a role model," impressionable youth have idolized others, for myriad reasons.  Some reasons are reasonable, others ridiculously random.  Some role models are deserving, others . . . deplorable.

Eighteen is the most dangerous age.  Fully adult, we suddenly have absolute power over our lives.  But we are armed with scant experience to help us make sound decisions that will shape our future.  Indeed, we are barely conscious of the enormity these little decisions have.

 I have encountered first hand this ironic dichotomy in our youth.  A large demographic of my readers are young men and women about to embark on a career that they hope will lead them to the cockpit of an airliner.  They are from all walks of life, from all financial, regional, family and cultural backgrounds and challenges.  But they all share one thing:  a dream.

This dream shapes their every action.  They study hard in school, work hard at jobs, and typically have a positive, supportive relationship with their parents.  They are singularly focused, and driven.  These are the traits that will help them “make it” in the world, regardless of whether they ultimately achieve their goal.

The unfocused youth is still driven.  But they are the vulnerable youth, for they are searching for one thing:  acceptance.  And they will find it, whether it be at the hangar or the hangout.  The soccer team or the street gang.  The coffee shop or the meth lab.  And through this acceptance, they will shape their future.  And ours as well.

Who’s at fault?  We are.

The realities of our mobile society are accelerating.  In moving from the farm family to the nuclear to mixed, America has severed its roots from the wisdom that older cultures have known for centuries—the bond of family.  We pay lip service to the phrase, “It takes a village,” but in reality we have cast family aside as an inconvenient truth.  We have abandoned the traditional family* and gone our own way.  And we are reaping what we have sewn.

The family unit of old served to provide, among others, three fundamental needs:  stability, peace, and identity.  In short, love.  And with that, the drive of youth is not wasted in searching for acceptance; they already have it.  They are now free to search for themselves.  To find and pursue their dreams.

We in the States cherish freedom above all—as well we should.  But have forgotten that, with great freedom comes great responsibility.  In our drive to remain “free,” we have abandoned our youth to make their own way.

In our drive to “get ahead,” we often make the same mistake.  Mom and dad both working is equivalent to a single parent household: for a large part of each day, Junior has been abandoned.  

The key, again, is love.  Only when our society as a whole begins to reflect on the failures of the fractured family, only when we each of us come to realize that most basic truth—the love of a child trumps all—will the arc of our societal ills begin to mend. 

A single parent is admirable, and deserves our great respect.  But, perhaps, rather than taking that second job to make ends meet, the single parent—and the dual parent household alike—should consider instead spending more time at home.

God knows it will pay vastly more dividends.

*In reference to the May 16, 2013 WSJ article, Boston Suspect Left Note in Boat (
*“Traditional family” here means two parents, one or more children, along with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  An entire support team network.  The “gay marriage debate" is outside the scope and point of this essay.

This post is dedicated to the memory of my loving father, Richard.
A proud boy and his daddy.  With my big brothers, circa 1965, at the Grand Opening of Daddy's Firestone store.

Dad, you always took time out every day to play with me and my pals,
and always supported me in everything I ever did.

Thank you!  I love and miss you!!!


Posting June 26 @ 11:00 PHX
"Around the World in 80 Jumpseats"
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  1. Eric, this is such a touching post. Hopefully everyone will learn what matters before it's too late. There will always be another dollar, but never another moment like today. Happy Fathers Day to you!

    1. Thank you, Karlene! It came from deep within my heart. I so ache for those lost kids who take the wrong path!

      Thanks for the Father's Day wish!

  2. Lovely post, Eric.
    And so true.
    Happy Father's Day to you.
    P.S. What a cutie patootie in the check shirt... :)

  3. Yes Cappy.....Lovely writing..!!!!!!!!!....and so......true......just how little room there is between the 'hanger' and the 'hang out'.......for can boil down to..just a few miss steps....and potential goes down the drain....then we stuck with feeding and clothing..........them......for rest of their lives.......I think these last couple of generations.....have gotten off way too easy....too many excuses....too many excuses...allowed.........back in the 60 and 70' busted your had no choice.........and got the job done....!!...that was the mentality.....and wasn't questioned.........Now....the mentality has the last 20 or so years.....that its' ok.....don't have to do this or that calling it Post traumatic it a new 'neurosis' title.....give them meds...............(my opinion).....any know sure did turn out pretty damn good......!!!....course I've been known to be wrong...........LOL......Love the much!!!!!........and your fly....darling.....!!

    1. Thank you, Darlin'!

      I feel like each generation is like a xerox of a xerox...each one getting fainter. My grandpa could build a house from father could fix anyting in a house...I can fix some things in a the electrician, the batteries need replacing! (To be fair, though, he can build a computer from the ground up, and taught ME how to use my first smart phone--at age 9!) ;-)

      Yes, I agree, we're getting way off track, and ppl in this country confuse FREEDOM with Freedom from Responsibility...SAD!!

  4. oh yea and btw...........Hey there GG.....bout damn time you came a calling......LOL......
    oh comes the eraser.....up side my head........;)))

  5. Excuse my late post on this - was flying back from AZ (for which I have been suitably admonished by said blog owner)!! And - Fathers Day was a very quiet and relaxing day - and - talking to my Dad in South Africa! A really awesome post Eric!! Something I was reminded of last week while out west - anyone can father a child - it takes a real man to be a Dad! You are in that league (I've been told I am too)...

    Blue skies!


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