A disaster at sea

The terrible news that a cruise ship struck a rock and sank in the Mediterranean is gut-wrenching. We want to believe that something like this modern-day Titanic can’t happen anymore. Technology and communications have advanced to the point where boats don’t sink and planes don’t crash and people can travel from one place to another without fear.

But these accidents always have happened, and always will happen so long as humans are involved. The cruise ship’s head waiter apparently wanted to show off the ship to his hometown, and the ship’s captain seems to have gone along with it. Two people, two mistakes, and many people lost their lives as a result.

And the people who died didn’t do anything wrong. They gave their money to the cruise line, with the expectation that their safe transport would be provided. We do the same thing when we board a train, or ride a bus. And virtually every time this happens, people arrive safely and nobody gives it a second thought. It’s disasters like this one that can snap us back to reality, though. People can make mistakes, and those mistakes sometimes have terrible consequences.

Humans have always traveled, for business and for pleasure. But there’s always a risk–however small it might seem–involved in doing so. And while the Italian cruise ship disaster may not have another one like it in decades, it certainly gives wishing someone “safe travels” an added relevance. And it gives all of us–regardless of how often we travel–a reminder that life is unpredictable, and we must enjoy it for as long as we are able to do so.

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