Sunday, August 25, 2013


“Fifteen hundred people went into the sea when the Titanic sank from under us.  There were twenty boats floating nearby, and only one came back.  One.  Six were saved from the water, myself included.  Six.  Out of fifteen hundred.  Afterward the seven-hundred people in the boats had nothing to do but wait – wait to die, wait to live, wait for an absolution that would never come.”

A good sad movie should leave you with something.  A sense of hope.  A catharsis.  “Titanic”, the movie based off of the actual ship, doesn’t provide that for me, though I know it does for others.  I don’t cry when I watch the movie.  I just sit there with a hollow sense of depression and a Celine Dion song stuck in my head.  So much hopelessness and futility permeates those final scenes as water fills the boat, as people wait to drown, as people scream for help in the freezing ocean while those who steer the lifeboats paddle away and refuse to turn around.  The lifeboat pilots had an excuse.  Surely, as one character reasoned, if they had turned around the boats would have been swarmed by desperate people.  The boats would have gone under.

Oh, but wouldn’t it have been worth it to try?  To attempt to save even just one more life?  To release even one more person from the cruelty of the freezing water?  Would you be able to live with yourself knowing that you paddled to safety and ignored the dying?  Would it not be better to die than to live like that? 

More than six people could have been saved if only those lifeboats had turned around.  But the lifeboats just kept moving slowly in the other direction because the people inside counted their own lives, their own safety, as more important than everyone else’s. 

The one boat that turned around got there too late. 

Fifteen thousand people.  Six were rescued.  Six. 

Do you know where I’m about to go from here?

The Titanic is gone.  But there are so many people who are still waiting for a lifeboat.  You and I have managed to paddle to safety, to a world of comfort, plenty of food, of warmth, and of opportunity.  But we’re steadily rowing our lifeboats away from the people who are trapped and screaming for us to help them because we count our own safety and comfort as more important than theirs. 

The world had one hundred and forty three million orphans.  At least.  We have the lifeboats.  They have nothing to do but wait, just like those left in the ocean.  They’re waiting to live or to die.  We can do something.  If only eight percent of the Christians in the world chose to help just one child, the crisis would be over.  The children wouldn’t sink.  They wouldn’t be left to die.  But we’re all still rowing away and hoping that somebody else turns around.  Somebody else can risk being pulled into the water.  And as a result, only a few are rescued. 

The full weight of the Titanic tragedy hits during the scene when two men row a single lifeboat back out into the ocean.  “Is there anybody alive out there?”  One calls repeatedly, his voice echoing across the icy water.  “Is there anybody alive out there?” 

“These are all dead,” replies the other.  “We came too late.”

We came too late. 

Please.  Don’t be too late.  They’re calling for help.

Turn your boat around. 

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