Mastering fear – a cabin crew shows how

This blog has been reproduced from The Connection.

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Today I am quietly celebrating another 10-year anniversary. September 17, 2001 was the date Flight 156 from Boston Logan landed without incident at London Heathrow.

Sounds like a non-event? Not at all!

It was one of the first flights out of the airport from which Al Quaeda had launched its deadly terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC.

I had booked American Airlines Flight 156 months earlier. Now I had to decide whether to give in to the widespread fear of similar outrages that was persuading many people to keep their feet well and truly on the ground. However, after weighing the options I boarded the plane. Although this may have been just a small gesture of hope and faith triumphing over anxiety, I was conscious I was playing my part in refusing to be cowed by the evils of terrorism.

It was a beautiful flight. I had the privilege of meeting people who were making a far more profound commitment than me to fly through the shadow of fear hanging over post-9/11 aviation.

A week earlier the cabin crew had been about to take off when the attacks grounded them. Now they were flying from the same runway even though the company had invited them to stay off work even longer.

They told me family and friends had urged them to accept the offer. Instead they felt compelled to do their bit in helping life return to normal.

These men and women were now on the front line of the terrorists’ battlefield of choice. They were literally flying through their fears to allow the rest of us to get to business meetings, join family gatherings, and reach holiday destinations.

I felt then, and still feel now, that was heroic.

Some spoke of spiritual resources. One said a minister at the funeral for the Flight 11 crew which never made it to Los Angeles had insisted: “This was not an act of God!” That simple statement had reassured her.

The terrorist aim was a fear fallout from 9/11 as dense as the cloud of dust which spewed from the Twin Towers. The intended target was global thought.

While Western governments waged “War on Terror” many people going about their everyday life fought their own internal battles and won. Like the Flight 156 crew they found the inner strength to refuse entry to many anxieties clamouring for attention.

So how did they do it?

Of course, blind optimism in human nature – or in a divine nature – is, at best, a shaky and vulnerable defence against evil.

But disciplining ourselves to take a mental step back from the tug of fear and questioning its validity to run our lives is a healing freedom it is possible to learn to practise consistently.

As Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom: “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

There are many elements in the battle against terrorism. This is perhaps a powerful contribution we each can make to its eventual success.

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Categories: Consciousness and well-being

Author:Tony Lobl

I write on spirituality and health for a diversity of online media outlets, from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I have been published by the Independent, the Washington Post, the Guardian, E-Hospice, MindBodyGreen and The Christian Science Monitor and I post regularly on the Huffington Post UK and BuzzFeed. In addition to writing and broadcast appearances I enjoy engaging with journalists, academics, health professionals and government officials about the possibilities for improving health outcomes through a greater emphasis on spirituality in healthcare and social care. I've also greatly valued the many opportunities I have had to travel globally for my church and to meet people around the world. My wife Jenny and I spent 10 years in Boston, USA, before returning to London in 2002, to take on a role as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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3 Comments on “Mastering fear – a cabin crew shows how”

  1. George Chaplin
    September 17, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    Interesting blog! Having experienced one or two scary flight moments myself- like the landing in China which didn’t quite happen when the pilot decided at the last moment he should abort the first attempt and the plane roared off and then completed a successful second attempt-I admire the calm assurance the crews exhibit. And now, on take off, as the engine noise increases to full power I am grateful to acknowledge He who is powerfully in control on take-off and landing.

  2. Valerie Needham
    September 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    It was within 3 weeks after September 11th that I was to fly to the USA for a family reunion in Winnipeg, for a visit to the Christian Science Centre in Boston and for an Autumn Colours of New England tour. People said to me “Surely you’ll cancel your trip!” My reply was “Absolutely no way! If the planes are back to normal, I’m on them.” That was my only concern – would the planes be back to normal. I was delighted that they were and those 3 weeks in the USA and Canada include some of my happiest and most memorable experiences.

    Having been a student of Christian Science for so long, I had learned that we can never be away from God’s protection and guidance. We can trust that all necessary actions will be shown us: If a change of plans has to be made, that’s OK. Harmony and calm order are included in God’s laws and these supersede any human problems when we have faith that God is the only real power and the source of guidance and action.

    I remember that although we went through extra security checks and questioning at the various airports my trip took me through, no-one seemed stressed or anxious as a result of the recent terrorist attacks. There was just friendliness and helpfulness. The whole of my time away was a Love-experience.

    Valerie Needham

  3. Sandi
    September 19, 2011 at 4:09 am #

    Strong stand for good as the governing reality. What an important story to tell. thanks Tony.

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