Women and Children First

Like everyone over the last few days I have been watching for news items about the Costa Concordia cruise ship that began to sink off the coast of Italy on January 13th… Had this happened miles out in the ocean I am sure the death toll would have been so much higher… No consolation at all for the families of – what as of today is believed to be – 32 victims (11 confirmed deaths and 21 missing) of the tragic accident.

As with all tragedies and horrific accidents that make headlines – the media clamors to break stories that will win them the next pulitzer or garner a bigger share of the public attention. I know it’s their job… this is not a critique of the media – it does irritate me though – can you tell? That’s for another time though … Some of the stories that are already surfacing are heart wrenching … Like this one about a couple was celebrating the 60th birthday of the wife… The cruise was a gift from their family. When the ship began to sink – the hsuband put his life jacket on his wife and she made it to shore – but unfortunately he did not. Read it here.

Other stories are heart breaking – not in the overcome with love and awe sort of way – but in the horrified and disgusted variety of heart break. Heart break that as a society we have fallen so low… Like the story about the fact that many men on board the ship were practically trampling women and children to get into life boats to save themselves. Wow. Really? I thought it was some kind of maritime rule actually that women and children get in the life boats first… but thanks to handy-dandy Wikipedia – I found out that it isn’t a rule – just chivalry. The best documented case of this long standing tradition – not rule – was the HMS Birkenhead in 1845. It is usually credited as the birth of that famous phrase – “women and children first.”

This second story – about men jumping in life boats to save themselves … and especially the news of the captain leaving the ship before most of the passengers… has the world outraged. Rightly so. But one blogger I was reading took a very cynical point of view – saying that he saw nothing wrong with it. That these men were just following instinct – the instinct to survive. He said that in nature – only humans follow the ridiculous protocol of saving the weak. That in all of the rest of nature – it is survival of the fittest, the strongest, the quickest.

Maybe survival of the fittest makes sense to him… but not really to me. Honestly – when we lose our desire to protect the weak, to care for the sick, to put others before ourselves… It’s not going to be survival of the fittest – It’s the beginning of the end. Our society is only as good as our moral compass. When we become a people who only look out for number one – all is lost. But thankfully – I know that the actions of a few are not representative of the many. I KNOW deep down in my soul that for the majority of us … we want to protect, to care, to love… and there is an eternal truth woven into the very fabric of our DNA. A truth that says our species does not depend on survival of the fastest, strongest and fittest … it depends on our capacity to love one another, to build relationships together, to take care of one another and make a difference in the lives of those around us. It’s about way more than just survival… It’s about more than just loving life – its about living our life in love.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends… So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:7-8, 13. Yep. That says it best and I couldn’t agree more.

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