Job Hunting, The United Incident, and The Girl Who Escaped ISIS

Job Hunting, The United Incident, and The Girl Who Escaped ISIS

I know, the title of this blog post seems strangely unrelated–and actually, it probably is.  The only common link between job hunting, the controversial United incident of this week and the Girl Who Escaped ISIS is my mental state of being.

So let’s delve right into that:

The United Incident

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know about the United incident.  A United flight from Chicago O’Hare to Louisville was overbooked and, despite offering an $800 voucher, no one volunteered to leave the plane and make room for four crew members who needed to staff a connecting flight.  United felt that the only remaining option was to “randomly” select four people to forcibly vacate the plane.

I imagine most people who have watched the video are horrified.  I could barely stomach one view of it.  It’s really inhumane.

What I wasn’t expecting was half of my friends on Facebook running to defend United.

I spent almost all day yesterday arguing with Facebook “friends” about the inhumane actions of United and how the situation was grossly mishandled.  They told me that it was the passenger’s fault for his inability to comply with United regulation and the law enforcement officer.  Others said this 69-year-old man shouldn’t have ‘lashed out’ against the police.

I say bullshit.

Basically, I think anyone that supports United in this particular situation condones violence.  Period.

I understand that the passenger was at fault for not complying with United’s supposed regulation.  I can also see how some people might be upset with this passenger’s refusal to vacate the plane when the other three passengers begrudgingly did so.

What I don’t understand is what happened next.  The passenger hit his head on an armrest and begins to bleed profusely from a head injury.  Instead of call for immediate medical attention, the law enforcement officers humiliatingly drag him off the plane.  Oh, and they also let him back on the plane (with blood running down his face) in a final attempt to plea for passage.

Ok.  I truly believe that no human being deserves this kind of treatment–especially an elderly customer who has rightly paid for his seat.  And in the world’s wealthiest country to boot.

I understand the argument made from the side of the United supporters; but let’s be real: It was United’s fault for overbooking the flight in the first place (and for not offering more money).  Ultimately it was United’s duty to bring PAYING CUSTOMERS to their final destination instead of drag them off a flight bloody, beaten, and humiliated.

In the end, I feel like United did not exhaust all of its available options to solve the situation–instead, they escalated the situation by calling law enforcement to forcibly remove an elderly man.  Jesus Christ.

I feel like this incident has brought out a side of people I never even knew.  Friends I thought who were sympathetic and open-minded were condoning violence against an elderly, Asian man on a flight he paid to be on.  It’s mind blowing.  It’s offensive.

It makes me jaded.  Tired.  Exhausted.

The Girl Who Escaped ISIS

I’m in a humanitarian intervention class this quarter.  The professor is making us read a novel per week to get a ‘first-hand account’ of violence on the ground and the role of intervention.  Our first read was “The Girl Who Escaped ISIS,” a first-person narrative of Farida and her heart-wrenching story of how she was kidnapped by ISIS, sold into slavery and was repeatedly beaten and raped.  Her entire village was ethnically cleansed and she was so full of grief and shame she tried to kill herself multiple times throughout the book.

I read the book in one sitting.  I was nearly in tears after finishing the book.  Mostly because the book had a “happy” ending thanks to countries like Germany.

“How did you like the book?” I ask Kris, a fellow classmate.

“Honestly,” she rolled her eyes at me. “I didn’t see the point.  Yeah, I get it.  It’s sad.  I feel bad for this girl who is raped and beaten and it’s tragic–but what’s the point?  I didn’t really get anything out of the book and I don’t think it teaches us anything.”

First thought: You ice-cold bitch.

Second thought: You are a very smart, intellectual woman.  I respect you.  You just presented a student project to a panel of diplomats.  Am I a sucker?  Did I drink the kool aid?  Was I not analytical enough about this narrative?  Is this some kind of ploy by the journalist who interviewed this particular survivor?  Was I a sucker sold by the story?

In international relations we study grandiose theories about war, state-building, negotiated settlements and ethnic violence.  The research papers and data collected on the subject are fascinating; and honestly, there are times all of this data and research makes me  feel like Varys or Littlefinger in Game of Thrones.  Learning the tools and methods to gain political power, win the upper hand of war, politicize the ethnic minority to your cause, control the flow of information and appeasing warlords to support your coalition is a power trip.  Honestly, studying all of this stuff is a trip for the ego  Can you imagine how it feels to think that you–yes, you–can stop wars with data and technology?  Isn’t that a boost to your intellect?

Yet sometimes I can’t help but think all of these academics studying theory and computing data in their ivory tower still feel grossly disconnected from the real world.  Can data analysis and generalized theory really improve security and help people suffering on the ground?  To Kris, perhaps the world is like a giant chess board and the ISIS girl is a useless pawn who can easily be cast aside.

Where do we draw the line between humanity and strategy?  Is this one woman’s story so trivial that it’s not worth putting on a syllabus in graduate school?  Is she just a necessary sacrifice for the greater good?

In my honest opinion, I think the more we forget the human side of international relations, the closer we get to extremist ideology and start convincing ourselves that we have some god-given righteous cause (like Hitler).  Everything becomes collateral damage.  Everything is for “the greater good.”  Some situations, like with this young woman, just “don’t matter.”

Thinking about the above topic made me feel very conflicted.  Am I a liberal, humanitarian sucker?  I don’t want to think so.  I know I can’t save everyone, and I know that I can’t spend a year in every war torn country on this Earth to get “the real story” for a fair assessment.  However, I do know that I can’t continue to numb myself with news of terrorist attacks and the spread of violence while ignoring the human story of these victims and while also simultaneously studying conflict resolution. It’s stories like The Girl Who Escaped ISIS who help us dive deeper–and really, just give a shit–about what’s going on in the-middle-of-nowhere Middle East.

I don’t know who is right or wrong, but I know one thing for sure:

I don’t want to lose my humanitarian side.

Job Hunting

I have been eating an unhealthy amount of sweets and drinking alcohol profusely.  I am extremely stressed about finding a job.  It’s nerve wracking.

The amalgamation of the above events really triggered my stress.  I’m just a walking body of irritation this week.  Hopefully next week will see some improvement–or even better–I get a job.

12 thoughts on “Job Hunting, The United Incident, and The Girl Who Escaped ISIS

  1. No one is defending that viewYou are the ‘normal’ one. 99.99% of the world would agree and the rest must be sociopaths. ‘What does it profit a person to gain the whole world but lose his/her soul’ ‘ treat people as you would like to be treated’

    1. Oh you would be surprised.. I have had to argue with so many people this week about it, and I think it has made me lose faith in humanity. The fact that some people feel excessive force on this man was ‘justified’ is just… beyond me.

  2. I think your first reaction was correct. Ice cold bitch. What exactly did she expect from the book? The secret recipe to end ISIS? Maybe the teacher just wanted to inspire some humane feelings in you strategy-making machines 😛

    RE the United incident, really? People defending it? I didn’t see anyone in my social media defending it, but I wasn’t specifically searching for conversations about it. It was big news in China too, and many people expressed their intention of boycotting United. There were also memes (of course) and my favourite one was bilingual: a picture of a United plane and the sentences “If we can’t beat our competitors, we beat our customers” and 别人打五折,我们打骨折. Awesome CH localization, right? Haha!

    1. 别人打五折,我们打骨折…!! Haha! I love it! Actually one of United’s competitors, Southwest, made a new slogan: “We beat our customer’s prices. Not beat our customers.” hahahaha..

      I think (hope) that’s exactly what the teacher was going for, because all the books in the class are first-person narrative stories–not theoretical crap. Anyway, thanks for making me feel better Marta.. sniff! I’m glad to know that was a normal, human reaction.

  3. “Ultimately it was United’s duty to bring PAYING CUSTOMERS to their final destination instead of drag them off a flight bloody, beaten, and humiliated.”

    100% agree, and hopefully a layer will also and dude will get a nice payout even it its only a settlement and no criminal case. In this case I think the “people” will demand it. Social Media is keeping this kind of abuse in check.

    1. Yeah they picked the wrong guy to boot off the plane–not only is he a minority (Asian) but he’s a doctor with lots of $$$ and I think one of his kids is a lawyer?

      Anyway, good for him. Sue the shit out of United. Haha.

      1. “Anyway, good for him. Sue the shit out of United. Haha”

        what Im reading is that United is pointing to the aggressive security. Seen allot of this bully mentality recently, from law enforcement, security etc and its disturbing how much they can get away with. My own opinion is that many went straight into those agencies after getting out and never made the military transistion to civilian life and are still on a power trip. I was on “that” before myself but you realize that civilian and military are 2 different worlds and you have to leave that behind and move on.

    1. Hey Kumano Todd! I’m looking at government work mostly, ideally it would be great to work in some realm of foreign policy, but if the DC trip taught me anything it’s: DC is insanely competitive. It won’t be easy to get in, but I guess I’ll do my best.

      I would also love to work in tourism again. I loved the Japan tourism board job, just didn’t like my 2hr commute and the inefficient management… but I loved the content. I actually gave a presentation on tourism in Japan at a seminar in graduate school and listed Kumano Kodo as a success story with its online booking system. I would love to do what the Kumano Kodo ex-JET did for other areas of Japan.. I really feel like tourism can revitalize towns in the countryside, if done correctly.

      Thanks for comment!

      1. Hey there! First of all, I’m going to message you via your FB page. I know a guy who worked in DC in policy, then came on JET, and now works in research&advertising in a much more laid back locale. If you would like a networking introduction, hit me with a reply and I’ll put you in touch.

        I recommend you follow Terries’ Take, a biweekly newsletter full of relevant info.

        The lodging law just changed a few weeks ago, so there will be big changes with AirBNB style accommodation as the Olympics near, but I fear that there may be changes back after they pass. I hope not, because it’s really the only way they can revitalize the countryside via tourism here.

        I had a great idea that, once my now-defunct Kumano Guide site was up, that I could use it as a template and sell it as a service to locales around the country whose foreign tourism outreach was lacking. That’s no longer on the table but I think the idea still has legs…

        The Tanabe Bureau’s site was undercut by and has lost most of its income. it is still providing support services to the community but relies on public funding, as before. If that well doesn’t dry up then that’s great, but it would be better if they could find a stable source of private income to model for the world!

  4. I laughed aloud over “ice cold bitch.” Yes, sometimes we have to develop calluses to keep going instead of dissolving into a puddle of hopeless snot and tears. But once we forget real people, real struggles, we lose our empathy. We forget what’s worth fighting for. We forget it could be us.

    I can’t tell you the number of people in entertainment, politics, and on Wall Street who have no concept of normal life anymore. They don’t know how much milk costs. They don’t know what it’s like to have to fight an insurance company over a surgery. And they assume that they reached their privileged position based on their own merit, rather than a system that favors the rich, the beautiful, the well-connected, and the white male.

    1. Yes. I mean, once you lose your human side you’re no different from ‘the enemy.’

      Argh, those privileged people. Sounds like Trump and his children…. and it’s these kind of people running the world. Frustrating.

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