Monday, August 08, 2005

The PC Challenge

OK, so the headline made you think this would be about personal computers and all the challenges they can represent in our modern day world. Sorry about that because if it did, you would have thought wrongly. Rather this note is about challenging the political correctness (PC) that drives so much of what we do in the modern business world and acknowledging how at least one company is taking up the challenge in a very real manner.

Ever notice how businesses typically send out “Greetings of the Season” cards instead of Christmas, Hanukah, etc. holiday specific greetings? It’s done because no company wants to potentially offend any specific group and risk the wrath of the PC media police.

Alaska Airlines however, marches to a different drum. Not only will you generally find better than average and friendlier customer service with Alaska (based on personal observation across more than 2 million miles of flying with airlines of the world) you’ll also find one little difference that challenges this PC issue in a very powerful manner.

When Alaska Airlines serves a meal on one of their flights, there on the tray, you’ll find a simple little slip of paper that quotes scripture, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.” Short and sweet with no fanfare and yet a wonderful challenge to the PC reality most businesses fret over everyday in planning their customer communications. Does it upset some customers? I don’t know. Does it speak to the values of the company? Absolutely. In all the airlines I’ve flown, only Emirates Air (the Middle Eastern success story) does anything similar in that Emirates Air offers passengers prayer beads once they’ve boarded the flight. If you do not want the prayer beads, just pass. If you do not want to think about Alaska’s prayer slip, just turn it over. Both airlines however deserve much credit for openly challenging the PC mentality that so many others struggle with.

On a related note, recently I spent a few days in the Rocky Mountains outside of Estes Park, Colorado visiting with family and friends and taking simple excursions into the park (photos at http://gudorf.net/rockies2005.htm). On our last day there, I rose early to slip into the park for some sunrise-lit photo opportunities. With the park still and nearly absent of other vehicles and people, I must confess I felt as if I were in a place of worship. For me it was like being in an amazing Cathedral; quiet and expansive. I can’t help but think others, regardless of their individual faiths, must feel a similar degree of awe and wonder in the presence of such a great slice of our physical world.

In full view of the rugged, snow capped peaks, a meandering creek, a gurgling waterfall and plentiful grazing elk, I did not think of the realities of our PC world. Rather, I thought of Alaska Air and found myself whispering “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30.

God bless us all.