As I continue to reflect upon the tragedy of the cruise liner which recently sank off the coast of Italy I continue to wonder about the captain of the ship. What was he thinking? How could he abandon those people, his passengers? What happened to the idea of “the captain goes down with his ship?” How would I respond?
God willing none of us will ever have to face such a tragic dilemma. If we do, however, I pray we fare better, make nobler choices than this “captain” did.
Still, we all have a ship to sail, all have events in our lives, moments during our day where we are in charge, are responsible, are the captain of the ship. And though it doesn’t compare with the tragedy out at sea, nonetheless when we are in the thick of it, sailing through our stormy seas – there have been times when each and every one of us has abandoned ship. We are humans, it’s what comes natural, it’s what humans do.
When Adam and Eve betray God and eat from the forbidden fruit God comes calling. And how do Adam and Eve respond? Do they rise up to the occasion? Do they draw closer together through the crisis? In the end are they willing to own their choices and go down with the ship? No. Instead they turn on one another, “She made me do it,” mutters Adam shamefully. And Eve’s response isn’t any better, “he (the snake) made me do it,” she mumbles cowardly. And the snake, well what’s he gonna do – snakes aren’t known for their nobility, that’s why we call them snakes!
But before we write off this myth we need to be honest – Adam is everyman. Eve is everywoman. Each and everyone of us has faced our Garden moment and fared no better than the first man and woman from time to time. Yes, there are stories emerging from this recent tragedy of men shoving pregnant women out of the way as they attempted to save themselves; women ripping the life jackets off of other passengers and grown adults literally trampling over children as they clamored to make their escape.
They and this captain may have survived but mere survival is not enough. We must do more than survive. We must be able to stand in front of our Maker one day and plead our case. We should remember that our parents, grandparents and ancestors are watching us, judging us, expecting us to rise up and do more. But, at the very least, when all is said and done we must always be able to go to the mirror and be proud of the guy, the gal, staring back at us from the glass.
“The Guy In The Glass,” by Dale Wimbrow, © 1934:
When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgment upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.
He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.
We can do better, must do better if we as a species, as human beings as a society are going to do more than survive. Adam and Eve should have responded differently as should have those passengers and that captain on the ocean liner. And when such a crisis arises in our lives, when tragedy befalls us, when the seas are turbulent and when life’s storms sink our ship – we should hope, pray and prepare for a better response, a noble response, a human response. We should act with courage and nobility. It is the only way we will ever be able to tolerate, appreciate and respect the guy, the gal staring back at us from the glass.