It’s been a part of my life since I first picked up my easy-reading book. I poured through the pages in fascination. I couldn’t get enough of it. What a thing it was, the R.M.S. Titanic. Like a palace on the water, it elegantly awaited its first of many unsinkable voyages. The engineers proudly boasted of their design. The people flooded onto the ship, reveling in the decadence and the glamor.
But we all know how that maiden voyage ended. Mistakes piled upon mistakes until the Titanic cracked under the weight, and while the band still played, she slipped into the water bringing over a thousand people with her. It wasn’t simply one thing that went wrong, that night in April. It started with a single mistake and spiraled out of control, like a fatal version of those rough days we all have.
As a kid, I was intrigued by the mistakes. How could intelligent adults make so many mistakes? Weren’t grown-ups supposed to have the answers? Now, as an adult with a master’s degree in Organizational Management (a decision likely influenced by that easy-reading book), I analyze the mistakes. Where did it all begin, the disaster that claimed so many lives? What went wrong?
Some people would point to the iceberg. No one could prevent icebergs, and wasn’t it the iceberg that took down the ship? But it goes back further. Past the nearby ship that disregarded the flares. Back before a single person set foot on the deck. Planning. The engineers put a massive amount of effort into the elaborate design. There was a squash court. There was a Turkish bath. There were eleven decks. There were not, however, enough lifeboats for everyone. Nor was the crew well-trained in how to use those lifeboats.
That’s where I think it began – with the deadly assumption lifeboats wouldn’t be needed, that they weren’t worth the space. Personally, I would’ve started with the lifeboats and then tried to fit the rest of it in. (“No really, sir, the lifeboat can double as my cabin. I don’t mind.”) I’m a prepare-for-the-worst-and-make-note-of-the-exits type of girl. I keep bandaids and pepper spray in my purse. I know CPR and first aid.
But an assumption doesn’t come out swinging, with a giant “bad guy” sign across it. It’s much sneakier. It weasels its way in when we grow comfortable with our knowledge and complacent with our facts. It thrives when we stop seeking new ideas and opinions that conflict with our own.
Take a look around you. Do your friends hold the same opinions as you? Do you constantly hear thoughts that echo your own? Danger. If there’s an iceberg ahead, you’re not prepared. Identify your assumptions. Challenge your own opinions. You may realize you’ve made a simple assumption about something vitally important.
Halee Matthews has been scribbling since she could hold a pencil, and is desperately trying to shake the assumption that coffee-drinkers are the best kind of people. (It’s a work in progress.) She has been a staff writer for various newspapers and magazines, and became an editor at Real Teen Faith in 2009. When she’s not typing wildly on her MacBook, pondering the wonder and beauty of coffee, or taking her purple chucks out into the real world, you can find Halee hanging out at her blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
Amelia Gladstone’s hopes are tied up in the Titanic–hopes for a reunion with her sister and an introduction to an admirer. But when she offers a spare ticket to a down-and-out young man, her fate is about to change.
Quentin Walpole is stunned when a sweet lady secures his passage to America–and even more surprised to find his wealthy father and older brother on board the ship. Suddenly Amelia finds herself caught between the attentions of two men, but who should she entrust her heart to? As the fateful night arrives, will Amelia lose everything to the icy waters?