I spent quite a bit of time in the international terminal of the Atlanta airport Sunday night, and what I saw there left me feeling pretty good. It always does.Grant is spending the next nine months …
I spent quite a bit of time in the international terminal of the Atlanta airport Sunday night, and what I saw there left me feeling pretty good. It always does.
Grant is spending the next nine months in Spain on a teaching assignment. Kim and I put him on the plane Sunday night with all the myriad of emotions two parents could muster.
Counting both departures and arrivals, it was our seventh trip inside the international terminal, which is a big, wide-open building that accommodates about a dozen airlines and serves people from all four corners of the earth.
It’s not a bustling place at all. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Except for the occasional panicked traveler who sprints through the door toward security, it’s a pretty laid-back place. People move about leisurely, respectfully and interact peaceably.
The diversity of people there always gets my attention.
The dress, the languages and the different cultures all weave together to create a little microcosm of the earth’s population.
Astronauts talk about the “overview effect,” which happens when they see the earth from space as a fragile planet without geographic boundaries or political, cultural or social differences.
In other words, the things that divide us on earth are less important to people when they see our planet from space.
I get that same perspective in the international terminal of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport when I observe ordinary people from different cultures interacting with kindness and tolerance. It is refreshing.
The other night one family in particular caught my eye.
They spoke a language I didn’t understand. The father was on his phone trying to solve some sort of problem, while the woman admonished her middle-school-aged daughter for bickering with her little brother.
I couldn’t understand what mom was saying, but I seemed to get the message better than the daughter did.
The girl’s T-shirt said, “Enjoy the journey.” Her journey probably isn’t going to be easy. But I found it refreshing that she is willing to give the world a chance.
Regardless of culture or nationality, though, each traveler’s time in that building always ends with them shuffling back and forth in the line toward security.
Each one loses a little dignity as they take off their shoes and step inside the full-body scanner with their hands raised like they’re being arrested.
I know it’s necessary to weed out that one-in-a-million person who wants to harm others. I just wish it wasn’t.
Despite watching everyone, including my son, take their turn reaching for the sky, I still left that night with a good-old-fashioned warm-and-fuzzy feeling about life.
Of course, this was promptly shattered six hours later when I saw the news about the massacre in Las Vegas.
I’m not going to spend my last 50 words here going on a tirade about the complete and utter senselessness of it all, although I could; and I can’t promise I won’t at some point.
But I do wonder why an innocent 12-year-old girl has to be subjected to a security scan while trying to enjoy her journey, while a deranged lunatic gets to slither around undetected before ending the lives of 59 people who are trying to enjoy theirs.
(About the writer: Barry Currin is founder and president of White Oak Advertising and Public Relations, based in Cleveland, Tennessee. “Stories of a World Gone Mad” is published weekly. Email the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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