By Juan Wilson on 4 March 2012 for Island Breath -
Image above: Illustration of Noah aboard the ark. From (http://kezi.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/10-life-lessons-from-noahs-ark).
We are coming up on the 100th Anniversary of the spring 1912 sinking of the English ship HMS Titanic. The ship was emblematic of the pride of the fading British Empire. The ship was the most technically advanced and largest passenger liner built, and was considered unsinkable. It was hoped that it would be the fastest vessel to cross the Atlantic.
As you know, it never did cross the ocean. It sank on its maiden voyage. Few events better express the tragedy of early 20th century's social condition than the story of the Titanic: The social class system; the techno-optimism of industrialism; the dismissal of nature's physical reality; the confidence in Anglo-American supremacism. In hindsight the sinking of the Titanic can be been seen as a sign of things to come. A dramatic parable, or moral tale, on the folly of imperial industrialism. Pax Britannia was actually in ashes.
Shortly following the sinking of the Titanic was the unraveling of the social order of Europe that culminated in The World War (WWI); followed by the decade of the Great Depression; followed by the cataclysm of World War Two (WWII) that was punctuated at mid century with the dropping of nuclear weapons on civilian cities. Britain won the war and lost the empire. At mid-century America became the dominant military/industrial powerhouse in the world.
We forgot whatever lesson the Titanic might have taught us about folly. We began building interstate highways for cars and international airports for jets. We had a fifty year run at empire that ended in a head-on with the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001.
Pax Americana was over. What lesson is there? One I keep coming back to is the fragility of those things we put forward as the biggest, the strongest; the most indomitable symbols of our strength. When they are destroyed we aren't - but we are changed. Some of us become more entrenched in the system that is failing us and double-down on a bad bet. Others let go of their binding connections and try to float to the surface of a new world. I believe that the Occupy Wall Street movement has accomplished much in counterpoint to the Tea Party movement. I have admiration for their fearlessness, determination, organization, inclusiveness and more.
However, in a sense I think they're stuck on the Titanic after the first class passengers have taken off with the available lifeboats. The OWS are trying to get out of steerage and divide the ship stores among those still aboard. They should be finding things that float; abandoning ship and paddling for higher ground.
Clues? Increasing CO2 Emissions; Global Warming; Climate Change; Chaotic Weather; Desertification; Seas Rising; Ocean Acidification; Population Growth; Accelerating Extinctions.
Oh! Noah's Ark comes to mind. I'm not trying to be a downer.
It's "The facts mam. Just the facts". [ Joe Friday, in the 1950's tv series "Dragnet"]
As parables with moral lessons go I am turning away from the legend of the Titanic and turning to the story of Noah. I am not a Bible reader. I don't think there is even one in the house, so I had to go online and googled my way to www.biblegateway.com. There I found the story of Noah and the Ark (Old Testament: Book of Genesis; Chapter 6-9). At the site were dozens versions besides the King James in many languages besides English. The easy-to-read English version is here (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+6-9%3A17&version=ERV). We all know the story.
God is sick of humans and what they have done to his creation. They have multiplied and are doing evil things. He decides to rid himself of people, and everything else that's been corrupted in this world. But God is taken with the virtue of the man Noah. He tells Noah of his intent to create a storm to raise the seas and drown all. He warns him to take precautions by building a boat that can save his family and the animals he can bring along. Noah heeds the warning and with his family prepares for the disaster just as God described. Noah brings aboard the animals and birds that he can save before the deluge. The seas rise drowning all alive on the land. After the rain stops and many months afloat, the Ark comes to rest on a mountain. God is pleased. Eventually Noah, his family and the beasts and birds repopulate the world.The part of the story they don't have in the Bible is that the progeny of Noah screw up just as badly the next time. Who knew? The fact that we screwed up again is not surprising. In fact, we've done it several times. It's just that this time is bigger than the times before. But, that does not mean you should despair. Get your people together and start building the Ark you will need for the future you see. Include as many of the beasts as you can - while you're at it bring along as many plants, bugs, fish, etc.too. The more the merrier.
Ea O Ka Aina: We are still aboard the Titanic 2/18/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Winter Solstice 2011 12/21/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Top-Down and Bottom Up 10/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Infallible, Unsinkable & Inconceivable 2/2/11
Ea O KA Aina: Only one kind of sustainability 2/9/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Welcome Aboard! 12/9/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Here's the Deal 7/5/09 .