Over lunch with a friend today, the topic turned to the cruise ship which sank a couple of weeks ago on Friday the 13th. One hundred years after the Titanic went under in 1912, the Costa Concordia sank a few hundred feet off the coast of an Italian island. A simple Google search will yield a plethora of images of the gigantic cruise ship on its side in shallow water.
(Source: Wikipedia Commons)
What a Google search won’t yield is why this accident happened. Why, with all the technology available today, can people lose their lives, and a gigantic vessel sink in sight of land? The answer, as with the Titanic disaster, seems to revolve around a sense that technology makes us invincible. We take less care. The Titanic was reportedly considered unsinkable, and today’s cruise ships have GPS and all manner of other navigation technology. Surely that makes us safe, right?
That thought got us talking. And talking. The restaurant emptied around us, and filled again with the next crowd. Our wives eventually came searching for us and, after ordering another round of refreshments, we all talked some more.
In the 100 years since the Titanic sank, technology and human thought have progressed like never before in earth’s history. But what impact has all this innovation had on us as humans, and on that nebulous concept called quality of life? We have more broken families, teen pregnancies and single moms than at any time in human history (other than possibly after a war). Sure, they have smartphones, iPads, iPods and laptops, and they Tweet, Facebook and email, and many even meet at Starbucks for coffee. But today more kids are raised without fathers than ever before. The quality of education is declining and our prisons are overflowing like never before. Our political leaders are now regarded as lower than used car salesmen. Why has the human race regressed when technology and innovation progressed?
After gallons of ice water and a couple of shift changes at the restaurant, the consensus coalesced around a question: could it be that what ails the human race is a lack of adversity? What a disagreeable notion! But think about it: When was England’s finest hour? In the midst of the threat of annihilation in the Battle of Britain. The greatest king of Israel, David, is also the only king who had to flee and endure more than a decade of unjust persecution before ascending to his promised throne. Adversity. We know from stories our grandparents tell us how neighbors helped each other in the Great Depression. Our friends are from the Yukon Territories in Canada, and they tell us that in winter, everybody helps anyone walking or stuck along the road, no questions asked. In summer, it’s more of a hit and miss proposition, but everyone knows when it’s forty below there is no chance of survival without help, and so everyone helps. Adversity seems to bring out the best in us.
We all know the stories in the Bible when God would prosper His nation, upon which they promptly turned their backs on Him, until He sent them another round of adversity. Then they seek His face and repent, and He sets them free and prospers them again, just to start the cycle all over again. Can it be that we are repeating this cycle in our day? Can it be that what we need as a society to improve our “humanhood” is a good bout of adversity? A single mom in our church lost her apartment. Who took her in? Another single mom, someone with less than most. We see this phenomenon around us: those with less help more, are more considerate and less set on their own comforts.
Sharing, they call it, caring. In times of adversity, there seems to be more caring and sharing, it seems. When we are doing well, and are loaded with techno-goodies, our focus turns inward, not outward. When times are tough, those things suddenly lose their importance. Caring and sharing miraculously blossom.
So… could it be that adversity of some form will bring out less of the bad in us and more of the good? Not saying, just asking.