Regularly, I visit offshore platforms and fly there in helicopters. Most times, you could tell the profile of the pilot and his co-pilot. Over the last few years, it’s always a white (middle aged) guy as the pilot and a young Nigerian guy or girl as the co-pilot. 45mins flight and I am off my flight phobia for a while, until the next flight.
Then, few weeks ago, I had to go offshore again. I got into the chopper only to realise that the pilot was a young, female Nigerian and the co-pilot, the regular profile (young Nigerian guy). Oh my Lord!! How will I cope in this 45mins flight? I definitely could not get off that flight at the last minute; that would be embarrassing for my company. There were uncountable questions on my mind; the main puzzle for me was “I hope she was qualified”? Don’t blame me, it’s my flight phobia.
Wait!! Is this not the definition of “profiling”? How do you judge a person’s competence by their appearance, race or gender? This is wrong, totally wrong. So, in spite of my phobia, I decided to ask the questions in another way: Why will an international organization trust this young lady with a multi-million-dollar helicopter? The answer to that question cleared my doubt. There are a couple of points I will like to make based on this episode; Firstly, I trust the structure I believe that the helicopter company has put in place to determine the competence of their pilots. There is absolutely no way the young lady would have been entrusted with this kind of responsibility (human lives) if she was not qualified.
Secondly, quota system, federal character or affirmative action (choose your name) does not count if you have not put in the required number of learning “apprentice-ship”. The airline industry has well defined standards on the number of flight hours an individual must observe before he or she can pilot a helicopter. Thirdly, never judge a book by its cover. I found out that if logic is applied to most issues, profiling will cease.
The chopper flight was smooth as ever and I was at peace throughout the flight. More importantly for me, I learnt a great lesson about not allowing my phobia to becloud my sense of logical reasoning. Thank goodness that I got the message because when I got into the return chopper, there were two young Nigerian ladies as pilot and co-pilot.
This brings me to Xenophobia. While not dispensing off the concerns of the people, I believe that logical reasoning will go a long way in providing reassurance that immigrants are not the threat we see them to be. In other to overcome our phobia, we need to imbibe the culture of asking the pertinent questions in the right way. Instead of focusing on the small number of immigrants that have taken your jobs or committed crimes, why not ask to know how many jobs that the ingenuity of immigrants have created?
What have they (immigrants) added to our communities? If the good outweighs the bad, then your phobia can be allayed. What if the trends that have affected your career are beyond the controls of immigrants; things like technology, development in other parts of the world etc. The pains and life’s issues that cause xenophobic tendencies in humans are sometimes genuine and should be taken seriously but I believe that if our phobias can be set aside and logical reasoning applied, the pains may not be as burdensome as they seem.
Let me know what you think?