I had a huge, yuuuuuuge “You’ve gotta be kidding me” moment today. I read something so heartbreaking, so infuriating that I nearly came out of my skin, something that reminded me of how much I worry about the state of our society.
I worry about it a lot.
The moment came when I read this story, which starts off sounding a little like a joke:
A boy and his parents walk onto a plane.
Photo credit: Andrew Sieber
This is, of course, where the joke ends. The boy breaks out in hives and finds himself in the middle of an allergic reaction. When his mom talks to the flight attendant, she’s told that there are dogs on the flight (this is an interesting trend that Heather recently covered). The boy’s allergic reaction delays the plane, much to the dismay of the very important and busy travelers.
This is where the story turns into a terrible display of humanity. The family is removed from the plane in order to allow the flight to continue, and as the family deplanes passengers applaud.
As the mother of a child with severe food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies, I am stunned and appalled that this would occur. The humiliation this family had to endure is despicable. It leaves me speechless.
Let me be clear: I understand they had to switch flights. As a matter of fact, if we found ourselves in this very situation, I would prefer to switch flights and not worry for the entire time that we might have to divert in case of emergency.
No, my issue lies in the fact that there were others who cheered for their removal.
In a world that regularly calls for tolerance, acceptance, and kindness, this behavior is egregious. It is such a slap in the face for someone already physically uncomfortable and likely embarrassed by the experience.
Here’s the thing: the boy’s allergies may have delayed the plane and inconvenienced those on the flight, but I would venture a guess that the experience wasn’t a walk in the park for him or his parents even before they were removed from the plane.
Anyone who applauds and cheers for the removal of someone in a situation like this ought to be deeply ashamed.
The absolute worst part of this story is the fact that this was to be a joyful, memory-filled trip for a boy with his parents, one of whom is undergoing treatment for stage four throat cancer. It has, instead, turned out to be a nightmare that he may prefer to forget.
My thoughts are with the Alvarado family. May this experience turn from one fraught with pain and humiliation to one that brings joy in the memories made.
May it be a chance for each one of us to reevaluate the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
May we all be reminded to look beneath the surface to meet the needs of compassion, understanding, and courage others often so desperately need. And may we all remember that every human being deserves to be treated with kindness.