Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Tyranny of Arrogance, Incompetence, and Folly

Almost exactly one-hundred-years ago, on April 15, 1912, the new ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank, drowning more than 1,500 passengers and sparing very few survivors. There were not enough lifeboats on board, but it didn't matter because, the ship's designers insisted, the Titanic was "unsinkable". Consequently, very few of the crew members knew how to evacuate the ship, and some lifeboats were launched almost empty, or left dangling from their rigging.

It was the worst disaster in maritime history up to that time, and was seen as a metaphor for human arrogance, incompetence, stupidity, and folly. The proud captain of Titanic was racing through a field of icebergs at twenty-five knots, unable to stop quickly, and completely oblivious to the dire peril he was in. Very likely he was thinking that a catastrophe could never touch him. He went down with his ship. We invite catastrophe whenever we  think it can't happen to us.

Two years later, in August 1914, a vastly greater catastrophe unfolded: World War I.

It, too, was a monument to human arrogance, stupidity, incompetence, and folly. When it ended many millions were dead and wounded, untold suffering had wracked dozens of nations, competent governments were destroyed, and nothing had been settled. The stage was set for Soviet communism, Italian Fascism, Nazism, holocausts unseen in human history previously, and World War II.

Human arrogance, stupidity, incompetence, and folly are again on display; and the Titanic metaphor is alive and well today.
A beautiful new Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, with more than four-thousand passengers and crew aboard, ran aground and sank last Friday night off the coast of Tuscany. The captain guided the ship into the rocks on the shore of an island, ripping a one-hundred-foot-long gash in the side of the 1,000 foot-long ocean liner. He then got into a lifeboat and abandoned ship ahead of everyone else, refusing Italian Coast Guard orders to return. The crew "had no idea what to do", passengers are now saying.

(Link to Costa Concordia tragedy)

It happened at 10:30 p.m., and the weather was calm and clear. The island is populated and the lights from buildings on shore clearly marked the coast to the unaided eye. Considering the technology on board the Costa Concordia - including radar, GPS equipment, autopilot, and electronic charts of every inch of the ocean - this is an act of staggering stupidity and incompetence, even criminality. It illustrates perfectly the state of Italy and our world today.

There's one possible explanation for this tragedy based on motive; specifically, who stands to benefit from it? The following scenario is highly probable considering the rampant greed and evil in the world:

Coincidentally, the mega-hit film Titanic is planned for re-release this April 15, and the studio that originally produced it has spent millions of dollars re-shooting it in 3D. It should be spectacular and successful, worldwide. But one can never be sure in the entertainment industry.

What if someone in the promotional department of the studio decided that a publicity stunt - such as a contemporary cruise ship ripping open its hull - would be just the thing to stimulate interest and empathy for the story? The 'accident' would provide a real boost for ticket sales. The 'accident' should be minor and close to shore so that nobody is drowned or hurt. A cruise ship captain might be bribed to just brush past some rocks. It would be worth many millions if the stunt went off just right. Would a million euros persuade a skipper to betray his honor and oaths?

Perhaps the captain of the Costa Concordia miscalculated. It wouldn't be the first time a publicity stunt went horribly wrong.  It's just another sign of our times.

 (Link: Titanic re-release, in 3D)

National economies and societies all over the globe are foundering and collapsing at a furious rate. Many of the nations of the developed world - excluding Germany, Brazil, and China - are technically bankrupt. There has been massive mismanagement, corruption, and outright theft of resources. Politicians and leaders of all kinds have micro-managed, over-regulated, and bureaucratized formerly productive economies. They've promised benefits and entitlements to their people that can never be paid. At the same time, these leaders and national managers have strangled the private industries and businesses that generate the wealth needed to pay those benefits. Meanwhile, a craven United Nations has allowed Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea to to build  nuclear bombs. World war again looms on the horizon.

Ignoring the very recent lessons of Red China and Soviet Russia, people everywhere are talking about Marxism and Socialism as if they would cure our ills, when clearly they are - more than any other cause - the reason for our stagnation and decay.

Because we are abandoning the ideals of individual freedom, including free market economics, we are ruining ourselves. But it's not too late for us as individuals. We can't fight evil and defeat it with violence. We can seek out the forgiving and loving God who created us. We can allow the spirit to enter and calm us. Forgiveness - in the sense of not seeking vengeance for wrongs - will heal us.  We can be active in the world, and not give in to the encroaching darkness.
Jesus said, "See, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16.