I went to an African Children's Choir concert in Idaho earlier this month. The choir is composed of kids from Africa, and it gives them a chance to see the world and realize that life can be better. At the end of the concert, all of the kids in the choir came out on stage, and, one by one, each of them said what they wanted to be when they grew up. It was moving to see that these kids who grew up with nothing, many in refugee camps, had high hopes for the future. Many wanted to be doctors, a few engineers, some teachers, and one cute kid said he wanted to be an optometrist. However, by far the most common aspiration was to be a pilot.
Last night I watched a documentary about Iraq (Iraq in Fragments). One segment focused on a fatherless boy who worked at a mechanic shop in Baghdad. At one point someone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he said he wanted to be a pilot.
These are just two anecdotal experiences, but it is interesting that so many of these kids who grew up with little aspire to be pilots. Perhaps for them flying is not just a respectable profession, not just a way to make money, but a symbol of freedom. Flying means control; it means hope. Flying means being able to soar to new personal heights. I hope that these kids—and the millions of others like them—reach their aspirations. I'm thankful to have grown up in an environment that has provided me the freedom to choose my future.