January 2019 Newsletter

Happy New Year! (If January 1st is where you mark the beginning of a new year, of course). I could equally use the same greeting in February for Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese New Year, in March for those celebrating the new Hindu year – Vikram samvat, those Balinese Hindus observing Nyepi, or those celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year (originating in Zoroastrianism, but widely celebrated by those of different faiths across Western and Central Asia, the Caucasus, Black Sea Basin, and the Balkans). Or, we could wait until April for Vaisakhi, the Sikh new year and Songkran the new year festival in Thailand, Laos, and some other parts of Southeast Asia. Or, if your resolution fails midsummer, you can celebrate the Muslim new year in August or observe Rosh Hashanah in September with our Jewish brothers and sisters. Of course, maybe you never converted from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian – in which case I shall wait until March 25…!

There are many more opportunities to celebrate a new year – and each may well have implications for the aviation industry. Chinese New Year is reckoned to be one of the largest annual human migrations, and travel and religious celebrations have always been intrinsically linked. We should be aware.

Whenever and however we celebrate the turning of the year, marking the transition is a reminder of the slow but inevitable progress of time, and an encouragement that we are always free from the shackles of the past, as we move towards a future that is as yet, unwritten. New Year is a time for grace – and a new start with God’s mercy.

One of my favourite pieces of (secular) wisdom is: ‘Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.‘ (originally ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ – philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist, George Santayana, 1863– 1952).

Having exercised ministry in churches which have always been blessed with at least one person whose main contribution to church meetings was always ‘We tried that once, it didn’t work.’ I have both been frustrated by the paralysis such a mindset engenders while now, having entered my sixth decade of life, it turns out there’s very little I haven’t seen some version of before. I may soon become that person.

Nevertheless, if we are engaged in ministry in the aviation industry, we are surrounded by constant change, constant innovation, constant and deliberate disruption and re-shaping of every element of the industry. We may have an unchanging message and motive, but we will have to engage with the relentless change around us, or we will quickly lose the ability to engage and communicate effectively.

As ever, I decide I want to repeat a quotation (or cliché, if you prefer!), I then end up down an internet rabbithole trying to ensure that the quotation is correctly attributed (they’re almost always attributed to Desmond Tutu, Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein or Nelson Mandela.)

So here are some (researched) words of wisdom for us all as we enter a new year (sometime in the next 365 days):
1) ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.’ Jessie Potter educator and relationships counselor, quoted in “The Milwaukee Sentinel” Wisconsin in 1981 Or, if you prefer:
2) ‘If you continue to think like you’ve always thought, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got…’ From an advertisement for a seminar on the “Secrets of Selling” led by Dayle K. Maloney August 1984 To put it another way, as Albert Einstein (so eloquently didn’t, but is often quoted as having) said:
3) ‘Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.’ From a 1981 Narcotics Anonymous pamphlet Or, as it developed:
4) “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” From Rita Mae Brown’s 1983 novel “Sudden Death”

I find these sentiments helpful both personally, and as I observe the ways of the world with increasing concern!

In relation to our association, we want to progress and develop the work of our Association, and our ministry to the international Aviation Industry and those it serves: the travelling public.

Since an overwhelming mandate from the Association’s Annual Business Meeting in Charlotte last September, the Executive Board were charged with pursuing the goal of organizing the 2020 Annual conference in Nairobi, Kenya, the Board has been preparing for our meeting in Nairobi next month, though, understandably, since the terrorist attack by IACAC NEWSLETTER Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabab in the Westlands district of Nairobi on January 15, there have been a range of responses (all of which I respect) – from ‘this changes nothing’ to ‘this changes everything’ and many gradations between.

The safety of all members of the Association is of paramount importance. That needs to be said (and heard) unequivocally.

But a recurring theme in our media age, when many are concerned about manipulation by the ‘mainstream media’, fake news, social media, as well as powerful ‘influencers’ – whether influential business leaders, popular instagrammers or populist politicians, it is now up to each one of us to take responsibility for discerning whether promises, benefits, risks or threats are as great as they are portrayed, or are used as a distraction from the reality of the situation.

Here is the current British Government advice about travel to another foreign country. Which country do you think it is referring to? It is not Kenya (but it is not dissimilar to the advice for Kenya). Around [number] British nationals visit [the country] every year. Most visits are trouble free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in [this country]. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should monitor media reports and remain vigilant at all times. See Terrorism. UK health authorities have classified [the country] as having a risk of Zika virus transmission in certain regions. See Health. You should be alert to the dangers of car and street crime. See Crime.

The IACAC membership has expressed a strong desire to grow, to become more professional and more diverse, and to reach new parts of the world, which don’t, as yet, have the benefits of airport chaplaincy.

We can’t do that if we only think what we’ve always thought, do what we’ve always done and go where we’ve always gone.

A final New Year encouragement from Samuel Beckett, author, playwright and Nobel Prize Laureate. ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ ‘Worstward Ho’ 1983

The Revd George Lane, IACAC President

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