Like most people I have seen
hours and hours of programs examining various aspects of the fascinating,
albeit brief journey, of the Titanic from inception to sinking. It never fails
to amaze me how every now and then another detail surfaces to reveal yet another
deeply personal dimension suffered by those on the ship or by those who lost a
The luxury liner required
over 900 crewmembers to keep it in top form. Whether it was musicians, cooks,
bartenders, chambermaids, or waiters, the Titanic needed this small army of
laborers to meet the needs of 1,316 passengers. Only 215 crewmembers out of the
913 that started the voyage survived.
According to a recent History
Channel program, the White Star Line, owner of the ill-fated vessel, sent
something to 698 families who lost a father, sister, brother, daughter or son.
Some families found it waiting when they returned home from a memorial service
for their departed loved one, who died a traumatic death due to no fault of
Are you curious to know what
the White Star Line sent to these families? Take a deep breath. If you are not
already sitting down you may want to stabilize yourself before reading further.
The White Star Line sent a bill to all these families for reimbursement for the
cost of the uniform “lost” when their loved one went down with the ship.
I find that unimaginable. But
then again, this is the very same White Star Line that took no responsibility
for the ship’s sinking. Bruce Ismay, chairman and
managing director of the White Star Line, also on board the Titanic, found
himself a seat on a lifeboat when over a thousand men, women and children
perished that evening for lack of space on a lifeboat.
In a Congressional hearing
held right after the sinking, Ismay placed the
responsibility for what happened that night squarely on the shoulders of
Captain Edward Smith, who did go down with his ship and was conveniently not
present to defend his version of reality.
had in any way influenced the command decisions made that night by instructing
the Captain to maintain a dangerously high speed through an iceberg zone, then
and only then, would the White Star Line have any responsibility for damages
and lives lost.
With the same
single-mindedness that put him on a life boat while mothers and children were
left behind to be swallowed whole by the frigid North Atlantic, he swore at a
hearing that the Captain alone made all the decisions on that infamous night,
thus rendering himself and his company completely beyond the grasp of any legal
It is interesting to note
that there was a first-class passenger who testified also that Ismay had told her, before the vessel was mortally wounded,
that he knew the ship would be arriving hours before expected, because he had
ordered the Captain to do whatever was necessary to expedite arrival.
In the end, the Congressional
hearing absolved Ismay and the White Star Line of any
legal liability. Although Ismay managed to dodge a
financial and legal bullet, his unsinkable reputation for cowardice followed
him until the day he died, leaving the indelible mark of a pariah.
What never ceases to amaze me
is the ease with which some people side step their own conscience. It wasn’t
enough that he cheated death when many lives on his ship were lost. It wasn’t
enough that he greased himself up and slipped through the legal noose. He put
all that behind him with record speed, looked around, and set his sights on how
he could line his pockets with money from any salvageable source.
Considering just how fast the
families of lost loved ones found themselves holding the bill, and the
accompanying stiff, heartless slap in face, there must have been literally no
time between absolution in the U.S. courts and an order to bill the surviving
families for uniforms these condemned people had the bad taste to die in.
Next time you are watching
the news or reading something on-line that leaves you shaking your head and
picking up your jaw, unhinged by some head revolving, unbelievable information
you have taken in, stop. Take a deep breath. And remind yourself that
heartless, insensitive, consciousless acts have been
around for as long as people have populated the planet.
The job of those who wish to
leave this place in better condition than we found it is to have and remember
an inner place of integrity; the core inside of those who love and value what
is good and true will always be beyond the grasp of sinking ships, unjust
legalities and the mean-spirited greed of those who are committed to using the
Earth as their own private toilet by creating hell on Earth with their actions.
The love of doing what’s good
and true is something that every major Spiritual tradition reminds us. This is
what we take with us when we leave this life behind and graduate to the next level
of awakened consciousness. The planet Earth classroom is where we practice
realizing that alignment. This is where we practice choosing to honor a greater
unconditional love of truth and what is just and right, as that is what gives
our life meaning and deeper purpose.
The challenges we can’t fake
it through, and the manner in which we respond to the tyrannical and
life-diminishing challenges we face, is how we embody the beacon of Light we
came here to be. In other words, these events are how we come to know that what
is limited in nature is no match for the power and invincible resilience of our
Soul. All the horrors we see here are the means by which our love for what is
good and true excels, evolves and ultimately sets us free.
So the next time you find an
unexpected bill in the mailbox, or you hear about some other unthinkable
tragedy, remember that you came here to practice choosing love over fear; what
is good and true over greed and cruelty. For that is the only authentically
unsinkable ship ever created by Heaven and Earth.
Vaishali is the
author of “Wisdom Rising” and “You Are What You Love.” She is also a national
health and wellness speaker and radio host of “You Are What You Love,” heard
weekly at www.purplev.com, Sundays at 11pm. PST worldwide, and on Contact Talk
Radio, Fridays from 1pm to 2pm. PST. Vaishali learned
to transform her life from the threat of two terminal disease diagnoses,
domestic abuse and financial devastation. Join her at The Alive and Healthy
Conference aboard The Queen Mary on March 22-24. www.purplev.com/alivehealthy