Who is to blame?
In a what her lawyer refers to as a “silly” case involving Joel Olsteens’ wife, Victoria, a litigious flight attendant has filed charges against Mrs. Olsteen. The flight attendant, Sharon Brown, claims injury after Mrs. Olsteen allegedly pushed her against the bathroom door and elbowed her breast. Mrs. Olsteen was apparently upset that her flight attendants had not attended her so well. Someone had spilled a liquid on the arm of her first class seat and none of the attendants would anything about it. Reportedly, Mrs. Olsteen became quite upset and demanded some attention to her needs.
I love this kind of thing because it so clearly illustrates how even the (apparently) most evolved of us can get triggered into primitive responses and look like idiots. Now, I don’t know if Mrs. Olsteen actually did as Ms Brown claims, but clearly the women were upset. Neither of them chose to respond, both were, rather clearly operating from a survival mechanism that resulted in both feeling hurt and angry.
When this kind of primitive response kicks in our brains don’t work so well. Ms Brown has apparently been involved in other disputes of this kind so I am guessing she has a bit of the Self-Protector in her and doesn’t have a clue how this impacts other people. Not that it justifies the reported behavior of Mrs. Olsteen. But it does help us understand and have some empathy for her frustration.
I can picture it now. The beautiful and extremely well dressed Victoria Olsteen gets on a plane expecting to be comfortable and well taken care of as is reportedly the usual case in first class (though I certainly wouldn’t know for sure). She sits down in an outfit that is undoubtedly worth more than everything in my entire closet combined and discovers something on the arm of her chair that could ruin her designer garb. She asks for help since this is not really her territory; it’s the flight attendants. Yet she gets no response. She can’t get comfortable and knows she will not be able to relax until the foreign substance is removed. She asks for help again and now she is getting panicked. How is she going to manage to be in a plane for (however long) and relax?
The flight attendant, Ms Brown, obviously rushed, and stressed views Mrs. Olsteen as an obstacle to her goal of getting the flight off the ground. Both went into Self-Protect mode firing angry reactivity toward each other and hurting each other’s feelings.
At any point if one or the other had been able to contain their reactivity and have some empathy for the other person the whole incident could have been avoided. Of course, the onus to be responsible for the incident really lies with Ms Brown as a representative of the airline and a servant to the people on her flight.
A need for compassion
It seems to me that both of these women could use a course in the practice of compassion. Once they both moved into a place of empathy, respect and ownership the whole necessity of legal action would be removed. If Mrs. Olsteen did physically assault Ms Brown than she needs to apologize and take ownership of her part, but so does Ms Brown. Her job as a flight attendant to first class riders is to be there to take care of them.
Clearly she failed to do that. If there was no assault (only the other witnesses on the flight can say for sure) it would behoove Mrs. Olsteen to listen with empathy to what could have provoked this legal attack on her. Perhaps Ms Brown is financially stressed and saw this as an opportunity to help her recover financially from some terrible financial problem. Perhaps Ms Brown wanted to please Mrs. Olsteen and was hurt at how angry Mrs. Olsteen was by her failure to respond. Whatever the cause, both women own a part in what happened and if that is not recognized in the legal process it certainly should be in some kind of moral or ethical sense. I hope the Olsteens can recognize this because it changes everything. Once you allow yourself to step into compassion and out of the egocentric combatant role everything changes.
What do you think?
I’d love to hear what you think of this. Do you think Mrs. Olsteen was the bad actor in this case, or is this a case of overblown litigiousness? Did Ms Brown fall short of her job duties and cry foul to save her job? Comment below.