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The Titanic at the docks of Southampton April 10, 1912

Covid-19 Ignorance and Hubris Echo the Mistakes of the Titanic

It is now 111 years since the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic and we have learned… nothing. 1500 people tragically lost their lives when the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912. And so far 154,000 human lives have been lost to the terrible Covid-19 virus.

Imagine more than 100 Titanics sinking since the beginning of the year, 20 of them with American passengers (30,000+ U.S. Covid-19 deaths so far.) If you were captain, what would you do?

Full steam ahead for the economy, because that’s what matters right? There never were enough lifeboats/masks/respirators, the captain/president was in the best position to see the iceberg/pandemic but he blames the people in steerage, thinks he can fix it by locking them in their cabins/countries. De-funding the WHO is like firing the workers who are patching leaks in the boiler room and saying you’ll only fix leaks in the cabins of first-class passengers who are nice to the captain. The sooner we all see that we’re all in the same boat, the sooner we’ll get through this and get the economy and our lives back on course. But I fear the ever-Trump crowd share his ignorance and hubris. This will end in tears.

One of the books on our nightstand is G.J. Whitrow’s Time in History. Europeans (who had rioted over the eleven days “stolen” from their lives in 1752 when England adopted the Gregorian calendar) once believed that the native American Hopi didn’t have a concept of time. The truth is more complicated, Koyannisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, Naqoiqatsi… a time of imbalance, war, transition…

But one of the most interesting things was how the Hopi viewed themselves in relation to time. They saw themselves as walking backwards towards the future. It makes sense, doesn’t it? We can see the past but not what is behind us (the future) so we must walk carefully, don’t run.

This is completely the opposite of what western culture worships. We look for leaders who are overconfident in the face of insufficient information. America’s leader is running backwards full speed with scissors and he wants all of us to follow in his footsteps. What would you do?

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