Icebergs and Hamlet

The Titanic went down one hundred years ago.  Since then we have since developed radar, sonar, satellite imaging, and all manner of enhanced communications.  International teams maintain regular patrols to watch for icebergs and ship construction has improved.   Yet, icebergs continue to sink three ships every year.

Reading in a BBC report last week about the still-present threat of icebergs shocked me.  The surprise is not that in the great wide world things can still go horribly wrong, but that we are so apt to forget that all our technology can not thwart the inevitability of “bad things.”

Yes Lennie, the best laid plans of mice and men do oft go awry.

Hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis have recently offered to remind us.   The 1.5 million Americans diagnosed annually with cancer need no such reminder.  The rest of us may have an abstract understanding of uncontrollable fate but that seems to do little to deter us from our faith that we can control life.

Opportunism in politics pushes some to leverage the vague sense that we can, and should, do something when things go wrong.  “You never let a serious crisis go to waste,” counseled Rahm Emmanuel.  But the Emmanuels of the world can only exploit those moments because so many people seem to genuinely believe that everything is in our power, and if anything went wrong someone is at fault.

Many times it is better to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  Sometimes there is no means of opposing the icebergs in our sea of troubles.


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