Millvina Dean died on Sunday, May 31, 2009. CNN.com reports that Dean, who was 97 years old, was the last known Titanic survivor. The Titanic sank in the North Atlantic in the early hours April 15, 1912 after striking an iceberg.
I question whether in fact Ms. Dean was the last survivor.
Yes, Ms. Dean may have been the last person alive who traveled on that fateful maiden voyage of the Titanic. However, she was not the last survivor in the sense that there are countless remaining victims of the Titanic. I refer to victims who are trapped in a co-dependent and abusive relationship with technology, a relationship which is epitomized by the history of the Titanic. Hopefully one day these victims will become survivors.
Kim Eyer, author of “Dear Lord, Deliver Me From This Hell" describes the difference between a victim and a survivor like this, “A survivor is a former victim”¦surviving means that you have left the emotional, mental and physical captivity of an abuser and have committed yourself to moving on to an improved lifestyle.”
The primary reason that the Titanic disaster has captivated the world for the last 100 years is rooted in the fact that we place such unbridled and unhealthy faith in technology.
The Titanic used some of the most advanced technology available at the time and was, after the sinking, popularly believed to have been described as “unsinkable”. It was a great shock to many that, despite the extensive safety features and experienced crew, the Titanic sank (RMS Titanic,Wikipedia.org). Google "Titanic Facts" and you here’s what you will come up with: 1. the Titanic was one of the largest movable objects ever built; 2. the ship took 3 years to built at a cost of $7.5 million dollars (400 million of today’s dollars); 3. the Titanic took only 2 hours and 40 minutes to sink.
If these facts don’t capsulize material existence, I don’t know what does. Work long and hard at great expense only to have your dreams quickly disappointed. Yet we are addicted. Proof of our addiction are the numerous books, websites, monuments, societies, annual celebrations, and scientific explorations that continuously recount the most minute details of the disaster, and the over $1.8 billion grossed worldwide by a 1990’s romanticized Hollywood version of the disaster. The sinking of the Titanic was the first modern colossal failure of technology, and we can’t seem to get over it. We have continued tracking the story throughout with Ms. Dean’s 97 years of life in the vain hope that somehow, through technology, we can make it right.
I call the relationship co-dependent because the driving illusion of our addiction is the desire to control material nature with technology. I call the relationship abusive because that word characterizes our actions and because material nature is unrelenting in frustrating our desires for control.
Before I start spouting Bhagavad-gita quotes to prove my point, let me refer to the history of the Titanic’s sinking which make the same points. Bigger and faster, history has shown these objectives to be central to the advancement of technology, while arrogance has been a characteristic attitude driving the advancement of technology. According to the Titanic Facts website (www.titanic-facts.com), both these objectives and this attitude played significant roles in the sinking of the Titanic. “In the months, and even years leading up to the maiden voyage of the Titanic, the White Star Line published numerous marketing materials claiming that the ship was ‘designed to be unsinkable.’ ”¦ Reports from surviving crew members indicate that the ship had been ordered to proceed through the waters of the Atlantic Ocean faster than safety allowed. There has been debate regarding whether or not the owner of the White Star Line, Bruce Ismay, instructed Captain Smith to attempt to break a speed record in the Trans-Atlantic crossing”¦Numerous other vessels had reported the presence of several ice floes in the area on the day the ship sank, yet the Titanic made no effort to slow down her speed.” Material nature’s response is history.
Like most relationship problems, our love affair with technology rests upon a misguided heart which effects all that we attempt to do. What were they thinking? That they could ignore the icebergs and go for the speed record because the ship was somehow invincible? “The demoniac person thinks: ‘So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him, and my other enemies will also be killed. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am, I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice.’ In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance.” BG 16:13-15 This attitude, and all endeavors based upon it, keep us in a co-dependent abusive relationship with technology. We remain victims.
If we are to become survivors we must change our hearts, change our consciousness. Indeed, most advocates of green technology, our avenue for moving on, acknowledge that the switch from exploiting the resources of material nature to working in beneficial harmony with nature can only be accomplished through a change in consciousness. We are not the controllers of material nature now, nor will we ever be. It’s time for us to acknowledge this and move on.
“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.” (Mantra One, Sri Isopanisad).