Close your eyes. Relax. Think of the Titanic. What is the first thing that comes to your mind? A ship? An iceberg? Kate or Leonardo, or even Billy Zane? Close to the day 100 years ago, on 14 April 1912, the White Star Line’s flagship vessel RMS Titanic struck an iceberg whilst on her maiden voyage from Belfast to New York. Not only was the Titanic the most advanced and fastest ship of the her days, but it also carried the most prestigious set of passengers, from Macey’s co-owner Isidor Strauss, to the richest man of the United States at the Time, John Jacob Astor. Though on the lower decks, away from the grand staircase and the steam baths in the cabins were also much lesser privileged second and third class passengers. As the tale goes, the Titanic was full steam ahead to win the fastest ever crossing from England to New York, ignoring several ice warnings. And then the iceberg struck – the rest is history and subject to films, musicals, books and research.
Now why do you think I am telling you all this? Nothing to do with the 100 year anniversary or the fact that James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster premieres again next month, this time in 3D. No – I think the Titanic still sets a prime example of how our society’s drive for bigger, better, faster and more is in danger of steering into an ice field, just like the liner back on that fateful night in 1912. The divide between classes seems to get bigger and bigger, just think of the North/South divide, the bankers’ bonuses discussions, pension cuts and so on. Unemployment, rising living costs, uncertainty, fuel shortages, budget aftermath…….. iceberg ahead?
Maybe our society should have a general compass readjustment and seriously rethink the course we are taking. Bigger, better, faster, more is not helpful in austere times, and if you think about it, once you are on a sinking ship (and I am not saying RMS UK is sinking just because the OECD says we’ve slipped into recession again), you need to go back to basics and hope that there are enough life rafts for everyone. 14 April 1912 – there weren’t. 14 April 2012 – we still have a chance, but we all need to pull together to avoid chaos. In my mind, we haven’t struck the iceberg just yet – it is straight ahead- so reverse engines, hard starboard and work together to avoid disaster. Otherwise….try Baywatch.