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Titanic The Real Story
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Titanic The Real Story

In the popular imagination the sinking of the White Star Line's Titanic was all about man's arrogance in supposing that he had conquered nature and the reminding by God that he hadn't!


The real story I think is not so much that a ship which the press had labelled 'unsinkable' (the White Star Line claimed her practically unsinkable) sank, but that the terrible events of April 14 / 15th 1912 remind us just how vulnerable we all are in our daily lives, and in that sense might be compared, say, with the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in New York in 2001. In both cases people minding their own business were suddenly faced with the prospect of annihilation and had to face up to a situation that most of us mercifully do not have to face: death with very little time to prepare and reflect.

The Titanic has rightly been compared with the rigidly structured society of the time, with its separated first, second and third classes, but whichever class one belonged to all the passengers were gradually faced with the prospect that they might die, even the survivors who managed to get into the lifeboats before they had sighted the Cunard liner, Carpathia.

It is not easy to imagine ourselves in the same situation and guess how we might have acted. How well do we know ourselves? Would we be one of the heroes, thinking of the safety of others first? Could we stand back bravely and allow women and children to be saved before us? Most of us would admit that we just don't know, even if we knew exactly what we ought to do.

But the word ought is a funny old word. Every day we are faced with situations where we are inclined to do one thing, well knowing that we ought to do something else. Some of us might simply rationalise the action and think nothing more of it, others would carry a feeling of guilt for many years, perhaps suppressing the feeling most of the time.

And if we are faced with sudden and imminent death? Johnson said 'if a man knows he is to hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates the mind wonderfully'. If we are suddenly faced with imminent death I wonder if it would 'concentrate the mind' on what we have done, or have not done, in are passed lives? Are atheists freed from this, I wonder? In any case all or most of our silly cares and worries would slip away, and we would be faced with and concentrate on only what really matters, albeit perhaps our own survival in this world, and maybe the next.

I sometimes think it would be helpful to have our own 'Titanic moments' when we imagine ourselves on the deck of that famous liner during her dying hours so that we can sort out what is really important in our lives, and ditch those things which are not important, or at least, get them into proportion.

This method of developing the 'titanic facts' of our lives are better than simple meditation.

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