Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sin Athina kai xira kini

Yesterday I came across this story in the news: Tunisian pilot who paused to pray instead of taking emergency measures before crash-landing his plane, killing 16 people, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an Italian court along with his co-pilot.

My first reaction was to laugh, then as I kept reading horror replaced my defensive initial reaction. Picture this: you are a passenger on a plane happily anticipating a vacation to Sicily (where the plane was heading) or some business deal, or seeing grand mom and giving her a big hug. All of a sudden a fuel-gauge malfunctions and the plane starts to rumble. At this life and death moment your pilot abandons his training, the established aviation procedures, his instruments and instead begins to …Pray! Pray? While the plane takes a death dive into the ocean? Sixteen passengers dead, sixteen families devastated, a grand mom still waiting with her eyes pinned on the road and her arms yearning for the promised hug, and survivors clinging to a piece of the fuselage that remained floating after the ATR turbo-prop aircraft splintered upon impact.

My third reaction was rage. The pilot was sentenced to 10 years for 16 deaths, a little more than 6 months per death! Shouldn’t there be an outcry against the architects of his religious indoctrination? Who should write something about the stupidity, the arrogance and the utter irresponsibility of this kind of religious dogma? How far away do we have to go from the ancient Greek adage that titles this blog and which loosely translates: along with your prayers to Athena start rowing your boat, before we come back to our senses?

When are we going to leave the gods alone and take responsibility for our own actions? When are we going to demand from those who hold our lives in their hands to abide by the same ancient wisdom? After all, the ancient Greeks flourished under this dictum to become a world power unparalleled in human history.