Costa Concordia

English: The "Costa Concordia" in Pi...

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This is what we think we know: the Costa Corcordia ran aground due to human error, there may have been an electrical fault, and the captain abandoned ship in a cowardly manner. It may be months, if not years, before we know for certain what really happened. In the meantime, I suggest reading or re-reading as I just did, Joseph Conrad‘s Lord Jim. Conrad was a competent seaman, but he was an extraordinary observer of and writer about man’s relation to the sea.

Jim was an ordinary man, not a British lord, who exhibited cowardice at a critical moment on a ship that struck a concealed obstacle and then did not sink. The European crew abandoned ship and left 700+ Muslim pilgrims onboard to their fate. At a hearing, Jim was stripped of his license as a ship’s officer and then began to work as a liaison between ships and on-shore suppliers. As his story followed him eastward, he fled before it. Finally, he could flee no farther and he sought escape among the native Malays where he thought his story would not follow. They called him Lord Jim in their native tongue. There after another act of cowardice by a renegade who Jim allowed to depart caused the death of the chief’s son, he met his death at the hands of the grief-stricken father.

Conrad makes the point that no one knows if he will meet a challenge or retreat in cowardice until he is tested. An act of cowardice frequently causes death to others. Finally it results in the death of the coward himself at a later date.

Please see Joseph Conrad | The Mirror of the Sea | Google Earth | Wind