Covid-19, The Titanic, and Lessons to be Learned

In the early hours of April 15, 1912, the Titanic sunk into the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean. The massive ship was deemed to be “practically unsinkable”, with one crewmember purportedly saying that “God himself could not sink this ship.” After all, the 16 watertight compartments in the Titanic had been specially designed to keep the ship afloat, should it be damaged.

With such endorsements, the passengers and crew who boarded the Titanic that day probably would never have imagined what lay ahead for them: that the Titanic would eventually strike an iceberg near Newfoundland, Canada, and subsequently take the lives of more than 1,500 people into a watery grave.  

More than a hundred years later in December 2019, the first case of Coronavirus disease 19 (Covid-19) was reported in Wuhan, China. It was not going to be the last. By 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation had declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) over this outbreak that would eventually change the world: as of 9 September 2021, the deadly virus had taken the lives of more than 4.5 million people. Life, as we know it, would never be the same again.

At first glance, these two seemingly separate incidents have nothing in common. But, upon digging deeper, they do have one key thing in common, as both of these incidents teach us one important lesson, and that is:

No One Is Invincible

Death is no discriminator of individuals. Whether you are rich or poor, every human’s life will end with death. No one can escape it. No one is invincible. In the Titanic, passengers in the first, second, and third class could not escape the fate that awaited them as the ship sunk into the sea.

Similarly, the Covid-19 virus does not differentiate between people of many races, among the rich and the poor. All the accomplishments and accolades earned in a lifetime are not strong enough to shield a person from the virus. Just like the Titanic: no one is invincible in this pandemic-stricken world.

The Benefit of Hindsight: Looking Back, We Learn

How then should we live our lives? If there is one important thing that the Covid-19 pandemic is teaching us every day, it’s probably this: life can be fleeting. But in that time given to us to live out our lives here on Earth, we must make it count. We cannot take our wealth and accomplishments to the grave, but we can live our lives here on earth to make a difference that matters, long after we’re gone.

The beauty of living in these modern days is the privilege of hindsight that we have. The ability to look back at the lives of those who have gone before us and learn. But more importantly, the wisdom, courage, and humility to act on what we have learned.

So, what can we learn from the incident of the Titanic and the pandemic that has swept our world?

1. Keeping the Important Things..Important

I don’t know about you, but after months of living (mostly) in lockdown, I have learned to differentiate the important things…from those that are not so important. These things include quality time with loved ones and having time for myself.

While I have been fortunate enough to have been protected from the disease, I have received news of friends who have had loved ones passing away due to Covid-19. It leaves you being reminded over and over again that we never know just quite how much time we have here on earth. It is believed that the captain of Titanic ignored ice warnings from other ships that eventually proved to be fatal. Likewise, could this pandemic be a wake-up call for us to value the important things in life?

2. No One Should be Left Behind

In the case of the Titanic, it is believed that 60% of first-class passengers and 42% of second-class passengers survived the ordeal. However, when it came to third-class passengers, only 24% of them made it. An article in The Guardian attributed that the higher survival rate among first-class passengers was due to the fact that they were more likely to have found a place on a lifeboat.

In our pandemic-stricken society today, some are still fortunate to have their jobs, being able to work from home (WFH), and be assured of a paycheque at the end of the month. Yes, although many have experienced a reduction of income and a certain degree of stress experienced from prolonged WFH arrangements, some do not have a job at all and have no idea where their next meal is coming from.

That is why it is very heartwarming to see Malaysians coming together in recent months to help the less fortunate, on their own initiative. One of my most cherished memory was to see a small struggling restaurant setting up a food bank outside their premise for those who need these food items. They gave, even though they themselves were experiencing a lack of income.

Hence, I cannot help but wonder: Could there be a higher number of third-class passengers to survive the Titanic if only those who were more privileged…chose to lend their hands. #kitajagakita

Source: Photo by Aamir Suhail on Unsplash

3. Stay Hopeful, Stay Positive

Both the Titanic and the Covid-19 pandemic remind us of one thing: that we are not invincible. But unlike the many lives who perished as the Titanic sunk, we are still living. If you’re reading this, you have not sunk, and hope still exists yet for you. And hope is the main ingredient that will keep us moving forward.

A Light at The End of The Tunnel

There are important lessons we can take from the sinking of the Titanic, and someday how we navigate the Covid-19 pandemic will be lessons for our future generation as well. Let us leave an inspiring story.

 So, keep your chin up, be positive, and believe that things will get better soon. As our newly-minted Health Minister, YB Khairy Jamaluddin said to the nation in his press conference on September 9, 2021, “[We are seeing] a light at the end of the tunnel”. And as we stay hopeful and positive, the light will keep getting brighter.  

Source: Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Hannah Becca is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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Hannah Becca
Author: Hannah Becca

A writer with a love for coffee and a passion for humanitarian works.