Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport.
I suspect there is not a single man in America who hasn’t heard a coach bellow through the locker room, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team,’ gentlemen!” Winning or losing, at the beginning of the season or during half-time of the championship game, that expression is perfectly suited to the occasion. And if we weren’t there to hear the speech personally, we got the news through the grapevine, or from a friend, or via a movie of the week that used the phrase as a motivational hook designed to prop up a less than Shakespearean story line.
The point is, sports metaphors pop up in our non-sporting lives for a reason – they make sense. As hackneyed as these expressions of get-up-and-go may be, they carry a simple, easily conveyable message. Each of us has to think and act in the best interest of the team if we’re going to become a truly functional unit that has the ability to achieve our goals. That’s as true for the aviation community as it is for any team in contention for the Super Bowl or the World Series or the World Cup.
Most of us know that to be true. I know the community is aware, because I am fortunate enough to receive e-mail from readers as a routine part of my work week. With each new column it seems I find myself on the receiving end of a series of comments posted to the General Aviation News pages, or a collection of e-mails to my inbox, all extolling the virtues of aviation and the writer’s heartfelt belief that GA should receive more respect in the world. I read each one without fail, and I respond to quite a few, as well.
I agree wholeheartedly, or course. But at the risk of alienating some of the more sensitive members of the readership, I would like to share a suggestion of my own and offer a motivational message for the consideration of the full community. I sincerely hope it will be received in the spirit it was intended.
While we can all agree that there is indeed no I in team, it would be in our own best interest to recognize that there is no I in they, either. And that is the Achilles heel of any political or social movement – the belief that, “they” ought to do something about the inequity, inequality, indecision, or intrusion into our civil rights that is causing angst and strife. In truth, we are they, and until we individually pick up the gauntlet and carry the fight for our future forward, we will fail to achieve our goals, just as surely as the team whose members fail to recognize that their individual contributions and behavior have a profound effect on the outcome of the game.
Yep, it’s that simple. If you’re waiting for “them” to help you with pretty much anything, get comfortable. You’re going to be waiting a good, long time.
I realize that most people have real hope of seeing political and social change over the course of their lives. And I realize that most of us have no interest in getting involved in the political struggle that it takes to cause real change to occur. But the reality is that we all have a role to play, and in order to be successful, we all have to be pulling in the same direction, more or less.
So this year, as our natural tendency to make New Year’s resolutions gets closer, let me challenge each of you to take a moment to consider what you can do to be a bigger and more beneficial member of our team. Maybe you can speak to school groups about the importance of general aviation, or maybe you can write an editorial to your local paper every few months, praising the virtues of GA. Perhaps you can get out there and run for political office, with GA as an integral part of your message – or maybe you can get behind a candidate who has an understanding of aviation with your checkbook, your voice, and your vote. Whatever your comfort level is, I challenge you to find that limit and go just slightly beyond it in 2011. Don’t wait for them to fix what’s broken – do it yourself.
If it’s true that to get anything done right you have to do it yourself – and that almost certainly is true to at least some degree – then I hope you will take your place on the front lines, stake out your territory, and become a part of the team that we need on the field if we are ever going to establish aviation as the leader in industry, transportation, education, technology, and community that we all know it can be. Do it yourself! Do it better than “they” ever could.
Let’s all do it together. If it helps, you can think of it as our Christmas present to each other, and to ourselves. We deserve at least that much, don’t you think?
You can reach Jamie at Jamie@GeneralAviationNews.com.