DATELINE: History Repeats
Sizes of disaster!
Our lectures at a local college on Titanic are sunk with the coronavirus.
We have had to cancel several college presentations we planned to deliver on the anniversary of the infamous Titanic disaster in mid-April. It now appears another, even worse disaster is in the making.
The Pandemic of coronavirus and the Titanic of nautical history share many similarities. I might have noted these if my lectures were going to be held, but it seems I am lucky to find an escape hatch in this life, far from the crowds with social distance.
My books on Titanic include studies of one local Massachusetts family, whose wealth did not save them. As lore presented, men stayed on board and went down with the ship.
Our ship of state has hit a tiny virus who has left bits of fever and respiratory arrest on our decks.
Perhaps women are not spared from the virus, guaranteed a precious seat on the escape boat, as their casualty numbers are equal to their counterparts. However, in one way, the two disasters share victims: the old and the poor were the most likely to die.
The third-class passengers did not have the luxury of paying for ventilators—or do we mean lifeboats? Even rich women and their pet dogs could escape where those below deck and uninsured found a sorry end.
It was ineptness and lack of preparation that doomed Titanic, and we have no tests available and massive denial that our economy could sink so quickly. Like Titanic, we have been the victims of hubris: the belief that we are invincible.
How else can you explain ignoring the warning signs and dancing in the ballroom, or cavorting on a Miami beach? There was no inoculation for stupidity in 1912, and there is still nothing available to treat stupidity in 2020.
Titanic hit an iceberg, and a microbe has hit us. The damage does not depend on the size of your nemesis.
In its own way, Titanic is a microcosm of our pandemic. One took a small sample size to their graves, and this world- wide disaster may take millions. We can only compare it to the grandiose Bubonic disaster of the 1300s, but that’s another comparison for another day without comfort.
Dr. William Russo is author of Titanic’s Forgotten Movie, Tales of a Titanic Family, and Spooky Geology and Titanic. All are available for housebound victims of virus and those undergoing social distance.