Saturday, January 21, 2012

Character defining moments

A week ago the Costa Concordia ran aground near Giglio, Italy...human error was the cause. Since then we have been bombarded with images of this magestic vessel capsized, rescue efforts and survivor accounts.  If you haven't been keeping up, simply google it and you will find all angles have been covered. What I want to focus on though is what surfaced during and after this unfortunate accident.

Before I do, I can't help but think about the Titanic. In a time and place sans the technology of today, we have only glimpses (from survivors) of what happened. Great minds hunger to know who, what, why, when and how, and have tried to reconstruct that fateful day. As technology has evolved they have figured out how to get down to the wreakage, so expeditions were given the challenge of getting answers.  Every angle has been exhausted. Then there's the movie Titanic which brings us on board to get a taste of what everyone on that ship experienced.

With the thoughts of Titanic both real and fictional floating around, there are many parallels we can draw. But what has my interest is when tragedy struck and the wave of panic rippled through the ship, how did people react? If I were on the ship, knowing myself as well as I do, I would be beside myself. Kind of like the person you need to slap silly to get them to think straight. But that's just me.  From a comedic point of view, the Seinfeld show demonstrated another kind of reaction; the episode where George panics at a children's party when a small fire breaks out and he pushes the children, elderly and clown aside to save himself. Need I say more? The range of reactions is as wide as it is deep.
Now the many armchair critics out there will spout how they would bring order, perform heroic deeds and save the day. Maybe they could. Maybe they would. Maybe they see it all too easily done on the big screen and assume life will play out like a script.  Not quite.

Back to the Costa Concordia.  Seems the many accounts of what happened paints many pictures. Confusion, fear and lack of leadership became the cocktail for chaos. Today, for all the survivors with their feet planted on solid ground, they have a chance to reflect on what they did or did not do. Selective memory may come into play, but reality is, how one reacted may not have necessarily been how one imagined. Does it make one a good person or a bad person. Easy to judge. Not so easy to live through.
So, what's my point?  Until you are thrown into a situation, how you face it will come from a place that may be unfamiliar territory. Regardless, it will be a character defining moment.

As Bishop Westcott said, "Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men."

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