If I were hanged on the highest hill,
Mother o’ mine, O mother of mine!
I know whose love would follow me still,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine.
-Rudyard Kipling (Bombay; 1865- 1936), English writer.
Not much is known about testing mother’s love in life-threatening situations. Some scientists put this matter to a test. They had a vertical glass cylinder and put a monkey and its baby into it. They filled the cylinder with water progressively. To save its kid from drowning, the monkey first put it on its shoulder and finally on its head. The water in the cylinder was about to come to the level of the monkey’s nose. At this point, the monkey put the baby under its feet and breathed easy even as the water filling stopped. Here we get a picture of the limits of love of a mother in the context of its baby.
There is another type of love – love of property/possessions. As a man was driving alone in his car, it caught fire. The man got down and opened the dickey to retrieve his carry-bag. The petrol tank exploded and the man died. Here the man loved his property to the point of destroying himself. Mercifully there was no one else in the car and he alone died for his greed.
Now we come to a third scenario which prompted me to write on this topic. It is a news analysis story by Eric Nagourney published in The New York Times(11/5/19) under the title: “Why Do You Grab Your Bag When Running Off a Burning Plane?” and excerpted here. It is backed by the picture of the plane burning and another visual of a man retrieving his over-sized bag from the overhead luggage rack – blocking the way of those being under emergency evacuation.
“Imagine trying to get out of a plane, but the passenger ahead of you is blocking the aisle as he tries to wrestle his carry-on free. Frustrating, right? And, oh — did we mention that the plane was on fire?”
After an Aeroflot jetliner burst into flames during an emergency landing in Moscow recently (May 5), some passengers who had just escaped were seen walking across the tarmac luggage in hand. It raised a rather basic question about human behavior: Why would anyone evacuating a plane waste precious moments retrieving his suitcase?
The online hate was instant, if based on sketchy information. The carry-on grabbers were accused of having hindered the escape of fellow passengers, dozens of whom died in the flames.AD
Decisions made in moments of intense emotion are often the least rational, said Debra Borys, a forensic and clinical psychologist in Los Angeles. And it surely does not get more intense than it was for the passengers on Aeroflot Flight 1492 on May 5, 2019.
It may also not be quite accurate, she said, to view the passengers’ actions as a conscious choice. “I don’t think we should think of it as a decision when they grab their stuff,” she said. “I think we should think about it as an impulse.”
“I don’t know how the mind works in these situations,” an Aeroflot passenger who took a video after escaping the plane that showed people carrying luggage, wrote on Facebook. “It’s a question for experts. It’s possible that many simply snap, and go on automatic.”
Watching from the safety of your phone, as an armchair disaster observer, it’s easy to think you would never act so unwisely, but grabbing for possessions is more common than one might think. Passengers who have just deplaned via an escape slide have often been seen wheeling luggage away from the scene.
The heading puts the issues in context and says it all. There are degrees of love and also concern within the family and beyond it.
Air passengers are on a higher plane, both literally and metaphorically, and would be expected to react rationally and with concern for others.