Thursday 27 March 2014

Plastic bags at airport security

I recently completed a business trip to Israel. I travelled from Dublin to Tel Aviv and back via Luton. The budget airline combination of Ryanair and Easyjet is one of the most effective ways of travelling from Ireland to Israel and certainly the cheapest.
    My trip did raise questions about airport security. Which of the three airports had the tightest security? Which of the three airports did not ask me to take my small quantities of toiletries out of my suitcase and separately display them?
    If you guessed Tel Aviv had the tightest security you would be right. My fellow passengers in the taxi  from Beersheva and I were quizzed by security at the airport perimeter for many minutes until security was satisfied. Upon arriving at the terminal I was again quizzed by a pleasant young lady about the contents of my bag. All checked luggage was put them through a scanner for inspection before the owners proceeded to check in. There was a lot of technical equipment for explosives detection.
    I then proceeded to boarding card check, passport control and the usual hand baggage screening and walk through a metal detector. Which brings me back the second question. Which airport did not ask me to present my toiletries in a little plastic bag – Security conscious Tel Aviv, Dublin or budget airline Luton? Answer is again Tel Aviv. I did not even have to take off my belt as requested to at Luton and Dublin.
    So why do these airports ask us to go through these inconvenient rituals? If there were a security benefit to separate display of liquids and removal of belt Tel Aviv would surely do it? I can understand the 100 ml limit on liquid sizes and the overall 1 litre bag, but what benefit is it to ask us to put these items in a separate plastic bag outside of our hand luggage? I can’t think of one. Or why take off a belt? What dangerous item can be concealed under a belt that will not set off the metal detector we walk through anyway? Do these rituals provide any useful security benefit?
    Perhaps Tel Aviv security is smarter because it is worried about real threats. Security concentrates on passenger screening. This provides much more benefit that inconveniencing everyone. In Dublin security had the added threat that if you failed to take the liquids out of your bag they would throw them away. Luton just delayed me by taking bag of toiletries out and sending it and bag through again and telling me it would be quicker if I took it out in the first place- an inconvenience but not as bad as Dublin’s threat.
    People are security conscious and comply with willingly with sensible preventative measures. However, it is difficult to see the security benefit of taking out the bag. I remember Dublin was not as strict on this a year or two ago. If Tel Aviv can dispense with this security procedure surely Dublin and Luton can?

Thursday 20 March 2014

Give it away now

“Give it away give it away give it away now 
Give it away give it away give it away now 
Give it away give it away give it away now 
I can't tell if I'm a king pin or a pauper”
     Whether you are a king pin or a pauper you will have a much better life if the take the advice of the Red Hot Chili peppers and give it away. True happiness and success in life comes from giving. The young singer Janelle Monae said ‘I'm a believer that the more I'm giving, the happier I am, and the more beautiful my exterior will be.’
     The importance of giving has been studied since earliest times. One of the greatest works by Roman stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca is called on Benefits. In this great moral work of 7 books Seneca describes correct and incorrect etiquette of giving and receiving gifts. He complains that one of the biggest problems in life is that so few people know how to give or receive gifts properly.
     Much of Seneca’s advice on giving and receiving gifts is still applicable 2,000 years later. You should generously give gifts that are useful and needed to those who appreciate them. You should give without having to be asked. You should give and receive with a good attitude. You should not expect to receive back exactly what you give – a gift is not a loan. 
     On the other hand you should return the generosity of those who give to you if and when and as much as you can. Even a pauper can be grateful to a king. Seneca’s key message is that it is important to give and receive well.
     The most famous giver of the middle ages was St Francis of Assisi. He said ‘For it is in giving that we receive’. Son of a wealthy merchant he famously gave all his possessions to the poor and dir charitable works. His holiness and giving nature was recognised by the pope and influential cardinals and even by the Sultan of Egypt who he visited on a peace mission in that time of the Crusades. Pope Gregory IX canonised him just 2 years after his death. The current pontiff showed that this great giver has a message relevant today by taking the name Francis. 
     Even modern spiritualists recognise the importance of giving. Maya Angelou said ‘that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver’
     And you can prosper by giving. A recent book, a business parable called The go-giver by Bub Burg and John David Mann tells how. The trade secret of success is giving. In the tale the authors through the main tutor Pindar and a number of others, teach young Joe important lessons of giving.
     Firstly The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. We all love a bargain. We all like to get good value. But are you a bargain? I’m not asking if you’re cheap! But being good value is one of keys to achieving success. If you give much more in value that you take in payment you have high worth. 
     Next, The Law of Authenticity: The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. When you give, give yourself. Give gifts that suit your character. Don’t try to be someone else. 
     Finally, the Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. In order for the giving circle to be closed you have to allow others give as well. Did you ever hear that it is better to give than to receive? Do you believe it?  It may be better to be able to give than to have to receive. But if you give everything and take nothing, you might starve to death!  Even St Francis begged for alms. If you think it better to give than to receive you do not give others the opportunity to give. And you receive fewer things to give to others.
     Picture a time you were in a pub, the smell of beer, the sound of laughter. Your colleague bought you a drink earlier and it’s your round? “So what are you having?” – “No, no, no! I’ve to get up early tomorrow”… “ah go on, go on”. You end up begging to buy a drink. You’d nearly prefer not to go out with him again. He is as bad as the guy who sneaks off to the toilet when it is his round! That giver is not giving you the opportunity to give back and is blocking the system.
     It is important that you are open to receiving as well as giving. This is one way you benefit from your generosity.
     You should think about what you can give to people. What can you give to your family, your friends, your co-workers, your community.  As well as gifts give your time, experience and love. 
     I am much happier since I learned to give more. 
    Giving is indeed the secret of success in life. I end with the insightful words of Anne Frank, who gave us so much in her short life.  ‘No one has ever become poor by giving’