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Reflections on Germanwings' trajedy; a lesson for all of us, especially employers

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The shocking loss of 150 lives on the Germanwings plane flying between Barcelona to Dusseldorf has left so many grieving families with so many what ifs. If only the airline had a mandatory two-person presence in the cockpit policy, what if my my beloved took an earlier flight or a subsequent one, what if the pilot could have reached the co-pilot through the cockpit door, what if the co-pilot confided his state of mind to someone who could empathise with him or if necessary who could reason with him, what if pilots were provided with counselling to deal with challenges that arise in the course of their lives, what if a pilot's status was in line with the responsibility he/she incurs on a daily basis, what if a camera could have relaid instantly the situation to the ground staff, what if an automatic over-rule prevented a plane from plunging into an object.

The bereaved will live with the what ifs until maybe one day when they have grieved for as long as they can stand and realise that their sorrow will not bring their beloved back, that they have a life and have to attempt to live it to honour the person whose life was so tragically and needlessly cut short.

Happily we must applaud The European Union's aviation safety agency for its belated recommendation last week that airlines always have two people in the cockpit of a plane. I was recently on a low budget airline flight, I sat in a crowded area when a pilot sat next to me sipping from a paper water cup. The waiting area was packed with travellers, it was steaming hot and there were many families with very agitated babies and toddlers that added to a scene of irritation for everyone. I presumed the pilot was simple taking the flight like everyone else, but as I ascended the flight of steps to the plane I spotted him in front of me walking straight into the cockpit. I was already in a very low mood from the ordeal of queuing, waiting and generally being cattle herded into this airline and it occurred to me surely this pilot deserved better treatment than I had just endured. My responsibility stopped at ensuring I did not forget my bag or passport and that I buckled my seat belt for take-off and landing. His responsibility was to get me and my 200 hundred fellow-travellers home safely to our beloveds, which of course, he did.

Have we lost the respect for professions we depend on to perform a job with the utmost ethical standards?

People's happiness in a job should be an employer's concern. There is a very close relationship between human reason and happiness - our conception or happiness and our calculated actions are most often in the service of our happiness.

There are some who must be relieved that this was not an attack of revenge on western society by a terrorist group who have brainwashed vulnerable candidates to carry out atrocious incidents. This was the action of one individual with apparently psychological problems so we are all safe to travel and our freedoms are not not curtailed with the fear that our plane will be attacked or that faulty electronics will not bring us to a similar fate.

I think we have lost an opportunity for a valuable lesson, if we do not look at the bigger picture. Prayers will not bring the 150 souls lost on the Alps back, but their deaths should touch each one of us to reflect on how the happiness of those who work for us, or to those we work with, should be of ultimate concern.

It is time for each of us to take stock of our ultimate values in life so that when depression and dark moods touch down on us we can navigate to find insight and vision. When we are deprived of security and respect for whatever reasons, it could be a job loss, a relationship breakdown or a lost dream, our ultimate values should surface to the water heroically to overcome our limitations, sadness or intense regrets. If we have given time to journeying emotionally and academically to understanding who we are, then we will be much better prepared to overcome saturn's influence-the god of depression or melancholy. Let's hope that employers will take the lesson and allow their staff the personal development that they deserve to have no matter what job they do.

Across the globe more people are increasingly working towards a more insightful, fair-minded and reflective understanding of behaviour. Of particular importance to educators is the improvement of how we communicate with each other and treat one another. We require continuing professional development whereby we cultivate the intellect, allow time for reflection, critical thought and emotional development. We know that much unhappiness, neglect or abuse occurs out of ignorance rather than malice, it escalates as a result of non-reflective behaviour. Whether you are a pilot, parent, educator or social worker, train driver or teacher your use of reflective thought is paramount to your effectiveness in each case.

My colleagues and I are looking forward to welcoming new students to the Diploma in Social Studies and Counselling Skills Programme next month and to getting acquainted with you over the next year, as we together deepen our understanding of reflective thinking and how to effectively bring it into the core of teaching and learning as well as in our daily lives and to our professionalism in the work place. The programme offers a unique opportunity to internalise (and to deepen over time) social scientific concepts to make life easier for you and to network with others across the world who are seriously attempting to do the same. With unprecedented change globally, many professions value skills developed through a reflective process such as awareness of the limitation of certain types of thinking, being able to verbalise not only what is known but how one came to know it, the ability to frame questions that enables analysis at many levels, being able to unite sporadic thoughts to illuminate issues and to avoid clich̩ responses or inaccurate language use that limits thinking.

Our communities have become socially and culturally diverse and it is essential in order to have effective relationships and to live in harmony to have a deep appreciation of culture. In this programme, we will be studying humanity in a way to create in our professions a more reflective view of diversity. You will find that instead of imparting only a body of knowledge and skills that apply to one aspect of your life, your study with ARLT can change the whole self, looking inward and outward, you will become more understanding of others whether they lived one hundred years ago, a thousand years ago or those with whom you sitting with right now. In addition, your study will never go un-noticed, un-forgotten or un-cherished as you will implicitly and explicitly inspire those around you and therefore, future generations.

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