What is going on out there? Is it just me or is the anger among everyday strangers being ratcheted up almost every time you go out in public? It's sad, but I almost wasn't surprised when I heard that this week a little boy having an allergic reaction was asked to leave an airplane and passengers on the plane apparently applauded. Oh, and the kid was on one last vacation with his dad, who reportedly has advanced Stage 4 throat cancer. But this whole incident isn't just a shameful commentary on what has become acceptable public behavior, a kid with an allergy being removed from a plane should't be met with applause.
Giovanni is just 7 years old and was on an Alegiant Air flight from Bellingham. Washington, back home to Phoenix, Arizona, when he started to break out in an itchy rash and hives. The reaction, apparently to dogs on board the plane, delayed the flight and eventually the kid and his parents, Christina Fabian and George Alvarado, were asked to get off. As the family gathered their things to leave, people started to clap. The parents said the trip, which was supposed to be a fun memory, turned into something completely crushing.
"People who don't have sadness, they don't understand," Giovanni told KCEN-TV.
I started noticing it a few months ago. Every time I'm in public, most people I encounter seem to be on a hair trigger, ready to completely lose it at any moment. Sports events, road rage, even our politics have become fueled by a collective rage. It's the absolute worst at airports and on airplanes. Combine the high price of tickets with demeaning and tedious TSA requirements, cramped seats, long lines, and equal healthy doses of booze and Xanax to take the edge off, and most airplanes are about to break out into a mob scene at any moment.
I get it and and I'm no better.
It happens all the time, a mom wrestling with an upset kid in a restaurant, kids at school who need us to pack something other than peanut butter because of an allergy. These are kids and families that need support and maybe even just a little kindness. Because all of our kids need a little extra love every now and again. And the last thing their parents need is another eye roll from an annoyed passer-by. It's time to start showing a little more kindness and patience toward strangers — especially when those strangers are children. Because you can't know what someone is going through, or how much the tiniest bit of love could mean to someone. Or how much your anger could hurt the heart of a little boy about to lose his dad. Kids can't choose their circumstance or their allergies. But adults can choose to show them kindness when they need it most.