After Surviving Titanic: What should you do?

After Surviving Titanic: What should you do? April 15, 2015



Avoid working for the White Star Line and signing up for the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic. If despite your best efforts, you end up on your own equivalent to Titanic, act sensibly. Income Tax Day in the United States is also the day when the survivors of the Titanic were picked up and had to face life after RMS Titanic. Supposing you survive your near-death encounter with your metaphorical North Atlantic, what should a survivor do?

Determine what went wrong and hold the right people accountable.

If you are at a Titanic company that plays fast and loose with money, the temptation is to find some underling and send them into the North Atlantic. The greater risk is to fall into the “haven’t-they-all-suffered-enough” trap. Survivors just want to get on with living, but they owe the innocent dead a responsibility.

It is true that the Captain of the great liner is dead. One need not dishonor his memory or minimize his courage while the ship went down. Honor what he did right, but for the good of future generations, make sure that lessons are learned.

After a venture fails, when Walt Disney goes bankrupt, figure out what went wrong. If the crash was Walt’s fault, and you are still working with him, make sure he fesses up or go elsewhere. If Walt learns, then stick it out: Walt Disney is hard to find.

Make sure it does not happen again.

Titanic led to ice patrols, new (overdue) safety policies on ships, and better use of radio shacks on ships. These changes would have prevented the disaster from happening or minimized the loss of life and have helped keep ocean going vessels safer than ever. Sadly, the Captain was lost and could not learn anything from his voyage and the White Star Line was not held sufficiently accountable for the disaster. Lessons that could have been learned were not.

Try to make sure that a brush with your own North Atlantic is the last anyone will face. Do not let the White Star Line, if it survives, get away with their lack of care. Hold them accountable for insensitive actions like billing the bereaved families of the brave band members of Titanic for “unreturned” uniforms. Tell the story and help others grow.

Thank and honor the people who saved you. 

The Carpathia was not the closest ship to Titanic, leave that “honor” to the California: radio-blind, led by a stupid captain who could not adjust to an emergency, and worthy of the dishonor the ship received. The Carpathia steamed hard for Titanic at some risk to her own safety. She saved some who might have been lost standing on the collapsible lifeboat by her furious drive to the scene.

Those men deserved honor, recognition, and praise. Britain and the United States made sure they got it. The Captain of Carpathia was knighted  . . . the Captain of California? Not so much. If you see somebody going down, try to react like the Carpathia and not see blindly like California.

While cursing the fools that sank the ship, take time to honor the people who pulled you out of the water. Make sure they know your gratitude. After your own North Atlantic experience, never forget the brave, the faithful, and the true who came to the rescue.

You owe them. Pay.

Don’t cash in or assume the world owes you after your hard time.

Carry on Mr. Lightoller.
Carry on Mr. Lightoller.

Some people cannot get over the trauma of the sinking of RMS Titanic. They cannot escape survivor’s guilt. Nobody should criticize the men and women who cannot defeat the difficult task of moving on with life after a traumatic experience.

And yet if we can, the best lives are those that learn a lesson and move on to further adventures. Charles Herbert Lightoller would never shine as brightly as he did the night of his heroism on Titanic, but he went on to live a great life. He helped rescue men at Dunkirk and served bravely in World War II. Most would not recall his name if it were not for Titanic, but that ship does not define the whole of his life.

You went down with the ship. You survived. Now, Mr. Lightoller, find a place to serve your King and country and do your duty.

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