In less than a week, there have been two tragedies at sea.
Can you identify how many people were involved in each and how much was spent in rescuing those involved? I suspect a vast majority will be able to identify one. It was arguably the greatest new story of the week. Far fewer have even heard of the other.
Walk with me as I explore facts and some questions.
For five days, one has been the focus of wall-to-wall media coverage. People have been wondering about a tiny submersible with five people on board. Where was it? How many hours of oxygen were left? Had it perhaps imploded? (I just learned they have proof the minivan-sized vehicle must have imploded over two miles from the surface!of the ocean!)
The passengers were rich tourists, including a British explorer and a businessman and his son. Four of them paid $250,000:each to visit the remnants of the Titanic which sank 111 years ago and sits nearly 13,000 feet below sea level.
The world’s news media went into high gear. They documented the rising millions of dollars being spent in search and recovery efforts.
Just a few days earlier, a boat carrying as many as 800 migrants sank off the Greek coast. It is likely the second-deadliest refugee and migrant shipwreck on record.
They undertook the risks because they were fleeing life-threatening starvation and/or persecution.
Greek authorities had tracked the vessel. Early signs suggest the country’s coast guard was slow to act despite numerous warning signs.
What’s the difference?
From a media standpoint, there is no doubt about it. Media of all sorts sensed a story that would pay off in reader attention. And, after all, isn’t that what pays their bills and puts money in their pocket?
Before going further, let me add two personal comments.
The first… I am one of those who took every opportunity to learn the latest as the story of these five unfolded.
The second… I often found myself trying to imagine what it must have been like for the father and his son. We were told over and over they had, at best, 72 hours of reserve oxygen.
Did the son cling to his father to save him? How did the father respond to his son as it became apparent something was wrong?
But looking back on these two events I realized I never really thought about what it must have been like for the families on the migrant ship. Many were jammed together deep in the hold of their “submersible” with no way to get out. What was the reaction of those mothers, fathers, and their children as they clung to each other in panic.
I finally made the connection! They were simply seeking what my parents sought for when they fled a country that could not sustain them. I think especially of my mother. She was what we would call an “unaccompanied minor” of 16 traveling in steerage across the Atlantic. She hoped for a better world.
A deeper question
It was only after consuming many news flashes and background pieces about the submersible that I recalled what I had read about 800 migrants just a few days earlier.
Now I ask what took me so long to remember the 800 migrants just days earlier. Why wasn’t I touched as deeply when I read the read the news brief about the sinking migrant ship?
Are some lives worth more than others?
Do I understand the meaning of OUR Father? In both cases these were my sisters and brothers.
Who do I really consider sisters and brothers of “Our” Father?
What were your reactions?
Click below for an early audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk