Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

TITANIC ILLUSIONS

    This is April 14, the day in 1912 that the world’s biggest metaphor hit an iceberg.  On board, John Jacob Astor, the fourth by that name in the family dynasty, was heard to say: “I rang for ice, but this is ridiculous.”
    The Boston Red Sox had just built a new ballpark that would last to the present day, but the sea-borne tragedy muted the glee of Opening Day.
    Every year, there’s always someone who declares April 15, now our tax deadline, as the fateful time and indeed that is when the unsinkable actually sank, into the deep, dark sea. But it hit ice not long before midnight of the fourteenth then took some three hours to disappear.
    For a hundred years, the Titanic’s crew, design and the first passing ship that failed to assist, have been blamed for the tragedy and have lived in disgraced memory. Newer research shows otherwise: historically high tides had broken off monumental bergs and lifted them to where they otherwise wouldn’t have been, and viewes both of the ice and the imperiled liner were distorted. Emergency flares from the doomed vessel appear shorter and were interpreted as less than indicative of danger.
    All in all, a perfect storm and even more a parable of human presumptiveness–belief that every stride in science and technology is the ultimate symbol that it, and we, are indestructible: another step in our wising up as a species.
     Imagine: all those people on the voyage of their lives, living a history that they would also die in. No doubt they would rather have lived to pay their taxes–the month of March that year marked the first levy on income, the one that ended the big party in Newport, Rhode Island and wherever the poor smothered rich gathered for seemingly endless fun and games.
    Suddenly a devastating jolt, a rude awakening that occasioned immediate decisions (women and children only in the boats), hastily kissing dear ones goodbye, while a fateful hymn played in the ballroom. And then oblivion.
    Turns out many of the early lifeboats moved away from the ship with far less than full occupancy. Those who fell, or dived, into the drink were dead in fifteen minutes from hypothermia.
    It’s a sobering remembrance and memorial, that at the height of life’s next party, a berg of sorts may be ahead, a reminder that we walk a narrow tightwire in life–or a narrow railing of a sinking ship that, for all its hype, cannot save us.

2 Responses to “TITANIC ILLUSIONS”

  1. Thank you for the mini-history lesson. I always enjoy reading your take on the day.

  2. John, My great grandfather, Rev. Robert James Bateman went down on the Titanic. When my grandmother pried open his locked desk at home they found that he had set all his affairs in order prior to his departure and had written the following poem; “Do you shudder as you picture all the horrors of that hour? Ah! But Jesus was beside me to sustain me by his power. And he came himself to meet me in that way so hard to tread, and with Jesus’ arm to clingto could I have one doubt or dread?” Gave me goose bumps!!!!!


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