The World Is Like Inflight Smoking - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The World Is Like Inflight Smoking

The World Is Like Inflight Smoking

Published September 27, 2019

Valur Grettisson

Think about it like this: the world is like inflight smoking. You remember that time? Probably not, unless you were born in the early eighties. But once, when we were ignorant, adults thought it was okay to smoke inside planes. The same vehicles that recycle the air and spew it back out, because no one can open the window to let fresh air in unless you want to crash and die.

But not everyone liked to smoke. Like children. Like people that weren’t that fond of lung cancer. Or people that didn’t like crashing. So the smokers made these no-smoking areas in the planes—like it made any difference at all—because those passengers had to have their cigars and cigarettes, no matter what. And they were merciful, allowing us to have a small space without their air pollution.

So imagine this, if these smokers—men in suits that are of course sitting at first-class—refused to stop smoking, the air in the plane would run out within hours, with the consequence being that everyone in the plane would suffocate and die.

You would imagine that all the smokers would quit immediately—if not only to save themselves—right? No, let’s imagine that they would refuse to stop, even with warnings of their impending doom fresh in their minds.

“Imagine next that the pilot, the one that captains the plane, would talk to those smokers and ask them to quit for the greater good. But they are too afraid of smokers, as they’re the customers bringing in serious money for the airline and spending the most on the inflight services.”

Imagine next that the pilot, the one that captains the plane, would talk to those smokers and ask them to quit for the greater good. But they are too afraid of smokers, as they’re the customers bringing in serious money for the airline and spending the most on the inflight services. The pilots agree that it’s more simple to do nothing and just hope for the best and keep their key customers satisfied.

So what would happen amongst the passengers on the plane? The kids would revolt. They would realise that the grown-ups are failing them. They would say, this is our future, and demand that these fuming bastards put out their cigarettes for the rest of the trip and save everyone from destruction.

The flight attendants politely ask the suits in first-class to reduce their smoking because the kids’ eyes are burning from the smoke. They agree to this, grudgingly, but they still have some Cuban cigars that just need to be smoked, and it makes no difference to the oxygen – it’s all burning up anyway. And are we even sure that the smoke is the true reason for the air is running out?

Well, first class is not convinced.

Messed up, right? I mean, who wouldn’t butt out their cigarette in a situation like that? But hey, it’s just hypothetical.

Now imagine if the pilot was Donald Trump (or any other world leader turning a blind eye to climate emergency), the passengers in first class were the richest one per cent, and the kid in the back of the plane— the hope of the future—was Greta Thunberg.

No, sorry, that’s just some silly fiction. Kids aren’t allowed to have an opinion about their future in the real world.

This metaphor is borrowed from the former mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr, and it’s a point worth translating to English.

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