The Business Insider just ran an article on "The Ten Deadliest Jobs in America." Most didn't surprise me at all. Roofers sometimes fall. And it's dangerous to work on high power electrical lines. Voltage, in that setting, is not your friend. Long haul truckers struggle with exhaustion, and with all the bad drivers on the road. But out of the top ten most deadly jobs, the THIRD most fatal was "Airplane Pilots and Flight Engineers." Now, as a frequent airplane passenger, that bothers me. A lot. When fishermen have a problem (#2 Most Deadly Job) the fish with them are already goners. When loggers have an accident (#1) the trees on the truck are already dead. But commercial airplane pilots? Their problem is our problem.
Long ago, I was afraid to fly, and for many years. But after nine years of completely avoiding airplanes, I suddenly started to fly again, to give talks around the country, and in other parts of the world. People who knew of my former phobia, colleagues at Notre Dame then asked me, "Wait. Do you suddenly think it's safe to fly?" I answered, "No, I just suddenly think I'm supposed to do it."
Our task in life is not to stay perfectly safe. That's impossible. Our job is to reasonably employ our talents for the good of others as well as ourselves. If that involves, as it has for me, as many as 400 to 500 airplanes a year, well then, Ok. But I do sincerely wish the pilots of our nation had a safer job. I really do. I care about them. You probably do, too - even if you just fly a few times a year and, hopefully, even if you don't.
Metaphor Alert: Philosophers are a little bit like airline pilots. When we go down, a lot of other people do, too. Bad ideas can ruin lives. So that's why I've always been as careful a thinker as I could be, giving people the best ideas I can find and clarify. I test philosophies before I speak or write on them. I make sure they're reliable. Then, I can safely share them.
I'm determined and dedicated to the good of everyone who listens to anything I write or say. My commitment is that we can all fly some truly friendly skies together.