I’ve become an avid reader of history. It occurred to me that, from historical accountings, the tragedy of the RMS Titanic is a near-perfect metaphor for the catastrophic pandemic we are experiencing 108 years later.
When the doomed ocean liner struck an iceberg on April 15, 1912, the crew faced a difficult reality: The vessel they arrogantly deemed so safe that “even God can’t sink her” was going to fill up with water and plummet to the bottom of the ocean.
There weren’t enough lifeboats because they presumed they’d never need them. Ships that size could carry up to 48 lifeboats, but Titanic only left port carrying a total of 20. This was only enough capacity for 1,178 – about half the number of 2,224 passengers and crew on board.
Employees of the White Star Line faced the inescapable inevitability that thousands of people who had entrusted them for safe passage from Ireland to New York City were going to die horrible deaths suffocating in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.
As you might recall from watching the classic Academy Award-winning film about it, the crew feared a rush on those lifeboats if word got out about it, so they LIED to the passengers in second- and third-class while the first-class passengers leisurely made their way onto the lifeboats. Many of the lifeboats were only partially loaded, with a disproportionate number of men left aboard because of a “women and children first” protocol.
The Titanic disaster was met with worldwide shock and outrage at the huge loss of life, as well as the regulatory and operational failures that led to it. Public inquiries in Britain and the United States led to major improvements in maritime safety.
Similarly, there are sure to be Congressional hearings into the failures that have led to the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and the overwhelming of our health care system’s supply of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE.
Just consider all of the parallels…