The "Ship of Dreams" passenger manifest included the richest and poorest, the famous and the unknown, the refined and the coarse. Yet, once disaster struck, these shallow labels quickly fell away. Under the threat of death, each person's real inner character stood naked for all to see.
Facing a situation where money had no value for the first time in their lives, some of the rich men panicked and took seats in lifeboats meant for women and children. Yet, other rich men calmly accepted their fate, dressed in their finest, and died quietly like gentlemen.
Facing a situation where hard labor had no value for the first time in their lives, some of the poor panicked and mobbed the lifeboats causing them to founder. Yet, other poor passengers calmly accepted their fate and spent their last moments comforting children.
Crisis has a wonderful way of revealing the true nature of a man. I can't help wondering how I would face a similar situation.
Would I frantically exhaust every available option right up to the instant of death or would I size up the situation as hopeless and face it on my own terms? If I did accept the situation as hopeless, how would I spend my last moments? Helping others? Centering myself? Reviewing my life? Writing a note to loved ones? Or would I panic, shout curses at God or trample others in an effort to survive another moment?
What if I was given the choice to take a seat in a lifeboat? Would I take it, knowing my decision took the life of another to save my own? Or would I decline, and bravely look my maker square in the eye?
These are important questions because they reveal who we really are.
We spend so much time acting 'as if' we have character that far too few of us ever truly develop it. External politeness is not the same as internal grace. External honesty is not the same as inner integrity. External philanthropy is not the same as a generous heart. When it comes to character, only the actual traits themselves have value, not the outer disguises that mimic them. The passengers on the Titanic learned this in the most horrifying of lessons.
I think this is why I've watched the movie five times. It begs us to face these difficult questions now - without the threat of death forcing us to do so. From the comfort of warm, dry land, we have the chance to become the people we aspire to be right now - internally and eternally - in the form of character that can never be taken away.
Ironically, how successfully we face death will reveal how successfully we faced life. Crisis reveals character and character is the measure of the man. When your time comes, what will crisis reveal about you?
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz