The band still plays Nearer My God to Thee while the unsinkable ship goes down because the tragedy of the RMS Titanic remains alive in everyone’s memories even 100 years after Her demise. The events of that fateful night still teach us the lessons we have yet to learn. Courage always trumps fear. The poor and the rich are all the same because, lost in the ocean, they are indistinguishable, fragile humans. Humility outlasts arrogance.
Last night, I found myself watching the classic movie A Night to Remember. When Titanic hit the iceberg 100 years ago, just before one day transformed into the next, I rang my Tibetan bell to sound the warning of what was to come. I stayed up readingWreck and Sinking of the Titanic: The Ocean’s Greatest Disaster by Everett Marshall to immerse myself in the experience. At the time of the sinking, in the early hours of April 15, 2012, I rang my bell to sound the end, keeping company with the ghosts beyond the confines of time.
This morning, I traveled down to the Titanic Memorial in Washington, DC to bring some daffodils to honor the dead and those that survived. The liquor bottle for the flowers had water spiked with a bit of cognac left over from a toast my husband and I made before we went down to the river, a traditional and formal acknowledgment of all that was lost.
I have never felt the need to commemorate the Titanic until this year. Perhaps the lack of civility and compassion that has especially plagued this country for these past twelve years was the catalyst. We still pit the established against the newcomers; the wealthy against the impoverished; men against women and children. Only by recognizing the humanity in everyone, and radiating compassion, can we as a country move forward and regain a greatness we have lost. If not, we sink like the doomed Titanic, a tragedy brought down upon us by our own greed and ignorance.
(Photo and video of the Titanic Memorial, copyright Marianne G. Petrino-Schaad, 2012)