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Death and glory
The sad story of a submersible which went missing while on a dive to view ruins of the Titanic has drawn the attention of the world media. Five men, who had paid to travel in the vessel for a once-in-a-lifetime experience are now presumed dead, after wreckage of the sub was discovered on the sea floor. Experts say the implosion of the submersible would have been over in an instant.
OceanGate, the expedition company running the dive, has been portrayed as being a little cavalier with safety. There had been warnings about its experimentation with carbon fiber hulls, which have not been extensively tested at such depths. Twitter sleuths noted that the sub was controlled using what looked like a gaming console controller, but that is not entirely unusual, with Vice pointing out that the U.S. military also uses such controllers.
Writing at Pirate Wires, Mike Solana made some observations about the online and media commentary to the news. One trend was to laugh at the fate of the passengers since they were rich and privileged. Instead of empathizing, it was easier to score some political points by scolding the wealthy for being "part of the problem". Solana writes, "Dehumanization has been used for countless horrors, and across the political spectrum...How could we not arrive at the actual celebration of gruesome death?"
The second thread of responses revealed how deep our current dedication to "safetyism" runs. In a culture where mere words are considered "violent" and "harmful", engaging in something so reckless means these guys clearly had it coming to them. Yet, as Solana points out, there is a spirit that is missing from our risk-averse and comfortable vantage point which previous generations possessed. He ponders all that has been achieved by risk-takers throughout human history.
Without wanting to draw too long a bow, we see some interesting themes here for Christians – what brings security in this life? what constitutes a worthwhile life, and how do we face death? Someone like Solana sees value in man's desire to explore and test the limits of this created realm, believing death is a noble price to pay for a life boldly lived. He is at odds with the self-preservation mindset of the Twittersphere which believes risk-taking is for those less evolved and if they die, that's on them.
Neither view acknowledges the fact that for the adventurer or the risk-averse, death is the just punishment for sinners. And no amount of bravado, no amount of caution can prevent it coming for everyone, from the privileged to the lowly. Yet for we who are baptized into Christ, death is overcome. We can boldly pursue what is good with our whole hearts simply because death has no sting. Pagans must run from death or try to embrace it as a necessary side effect of greatness, but like the martyrs before us, we know that our death is the means by which our Savior brings us to himself. Take courage, performing every vocation to the glory of Jesus, bringing hope to those who live in the valley of the shadow.