We just had the hundredth anniversary of the Titanic. An ocean catastrophe which has been the mother of a hundred lessons. Three in particular: (1) Human technology, even in all its Silicon glory, is still no match for the forces of nature (2) Human error is irrepressibly unavoidable (3) Humans like icebergs hide most of themselves out of sight.
Grandpa traveled that same route seven years later, taking his family to Italy. That 1919 voyage met many of the same perils. As Mom remembered it, he had a Smith & Wesson, vowing, “I’ll use this rather than let us die that way!” They made it but he never tired of repeating those three lessons for me:
* Human technology…! Today when you’d think our technology has no limits, we still have no answers for the tsunamis of the Pacific, the tornadoes of the Midwest, or the sudden icebergs of the Atlantic. Even the unbeliever has to give a nod to the Biblical tale about the infamous Tower of Babel. Gramps would say: “We can grow only so tall before the next lesson cuts us down to size!”
* Human error…! Our species has been inclined to errors ever since we met the smarmy serpent and his shiny apple. The way Grandpa always explained it: “Folks usually do dumb things, because they always look like so much fun. Until you get the bill for the fun!”
* Sudden icebergs…! This was Grandpa’s favorite lesson: “Life ain’t always what you can see!” Which at age 10 didn’t make much sense, because all I could understand was what I could see. Yet that’s how some people still look at it. Gramps is dead, but I’ve learned there sure is more to life than what I can see. Put it this way: Magic is seeing something that’s NOT there; mystery is not seeing something that IS there
I think Gramps was trying to tell me this. When it comes to life or to ships, the unseen mystery of it all is all that really counts at the end of the trip..
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