I have been thoroughly cheered by the vigorous denunciation around the world of Captain Schettino abandoning the sinking Costa Concordia cruise liner whilst passengers were still aboard. Allegedly he refused to get back on the ship until either all the passengers were safely off, or until it sank and he could drown with those left behind. So now he’s both still alive and the target of global contempt and condemnation for his failure.
Cheered because I’m assuming that all those mocking Schettino for his “cowardice” have, of course, done similarly brave things in the past themselves. A majority have probably got back on a sinking ship so they can speak from experience, and those who haven’t definitely would have in other circumstances had the courage to stand up, when their body and mind were telling them to panic, and literally taken on board (so to speak) the serious and imminent likelihood of a painful, horrible death, in order to save others.
That so many people have apparently already done this is immensely reassuring. (It’s also reassuring to see how many have, apparently, survived their self-sacrifice so they can now commentate on others’.)
I refuse to countenance the other possibility – that most of the commentary is by self-righteous hypocrites savagely pontificating from the safety of their keyboards about how others they’ve never met, but who hold jobs they’ve apparently romanticised as requiring a willingness to stay aboard a sinking vessel to drown, should be held to a standard of self-sacrifice that they’ve ever managed themselves. That they’ve convinced themselves that somehow tearing down someone else for “cowardice” makes them implicitly more brave themselves – that the more vindictive and nasty they are about this man’s failure, the more it makes them appear to be the sort of heroic people who we should admire. The more they differentiate themselves from this person’s failure, the further from such a failure they must be themselves, even though that doesn’t actually make any sense.
I really hope that’s not the case. Because that would be horrible:
The captain of the Costa Concordia is being pilloried for abandoning his ship and passengers, but would we have shown more courage?
COURAGE is a virtue and heroism is admirable, but do we have a right to demand them? Which of us cannot look back on his or her own life and remember decisions or compromises made, or silences kept because of cowardice, even when the penalties for courage were negligible?
If we are cowardly in small things, shall we be brave in large? Have we the right to point the finger until we have been tested ourselves? When we read of the seemingly lamentable conduct of the captain of the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino, who left his passengers to their fate, do we say, ”There but for the grace of God go I?”
No, we’re all heroes. All of us condemning the Italian captain have proven ourselves in the same or a very similar situation. We’re not shameless hypocrites!
Meanwhile, apparently the Coast Guard official who
bravely climbed aboard the stricken vessel putting his life at risk to save others berated the distressed captain over the phone has become an “overnight star” in Italy.
The rest of us ordinary mortals are left to hope that one day we might have the guts to order, from a safe distance, someone else to sacrifice their life – whilst shouting at them and calling them a cock.