At this time of year clichés abound, and so I couldn’t resist the title to this post. We have just returned from a fabulously tech-free holiday (they are the best kind) and yet I collected every newspaper article on the RMS Titanic I could find. I have been a buff since grade 3 when I first checked out Walter Lord’s A Night To Remember from the school library and read of the bitter-sweetness of the tragedy.
Why would an almost 8 year-old check out such an unusual book from the library when topics like Dr Seuss and Sesame Street are generally of far more interest to developing minds? I have no answer except that all things maritime truly resonate with me as if they’re part of my make-up (just bought a book called Pirate Outrages: True stories of terror on the China Seas).
Amidst the collecting of state newspaper articles that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, several readers wrote in and decried the massiveness of the sinking, saying “What about the Lusitania?” and “What about the Gustloff?”.
Lusitania (1200 souls lost) & Wilhelm Gustoff (9,400 souls lost). Comparitively Titanic was still the larger ship.
Were not these other sinkings far greater in terms of loss in life? Weren’t they more significant? Aren’t they worthy of the so-called honour of being touted the greatest maritime tragedy of all time?
But these writers forget one thing. These were wartime disasters. Titanic sank pre-WWI and the adage can be quoted for it that pride comes before a fall. In the James Cameron movie Rose says to Jack after dinner that the men would retire to the smoking room “...where they will congratulate each other one being masters of the universe.”
Masters of whose universe? Titanic was a crowning glory of her age, and that age was fast coming to its end and would never be in sight ever again. Man had been fooling himself into trusting in his own greatness. Big mistake.
When you take stock of all the happenings surround that journey it truly becomes a comedy of fateful errors.
The lookouts had no binoculars because they were locked in a cabinet and the key holder disembarked at the last stop (they key was in his pocket).
The Titanic’s wireless response to the Californian’s ice warning was “Shut up...” (there was A LOT of wireless traffic to and from Titanic as sending messages this way was as novel as the first ever text message and equally as popular). The Californian turned off its wireless about 10-20 minutes before the Titanic struck the berg and the Captain went to bed. They were only 10 miles away and would have been a saving grace.
After the ship struck the iceberg and stopped, they soon began steaming ahead only briefly thinking the watertight compartments would save her, but this only forced more water through the holes in her bow and a message was sent to the bridge to stop completely. Even striking the iceberg was such a glancing blow. If she’d struck it head-on, it would have been far, far worse.
J. Bruce Ismay (President turned pariah of The White Star Line) said after the tragedy, “Any ambitions I had are entirely gone, and my life’s work is ruined. I never want to see a ship again, and I loved them so much. What an ending to my life. Perhaps I was too proud of my ships and this is my punishment.”
Answer if You Can: Why is it that we can only see our own pride after it's bitten us in the butt?
"But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall." Chronicles 26v16a
"In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God." Psalm 10v4
Le méchant, dans son arrogance, déclare: «Dieu n'existe pas.»
Il ne va pas chercher plus loin, c'est là le fond de sa pensée.