Monday 21 April 2014

Opinion: Save the children from these people - Part I - The South Korean Ferry disaster

The father in me
Maybe just a word or two needs to be said about a number tragedies that have involved children that I have tweeted about lately.
I find myself having never exploited the possibility of having children and now by reason of the effects of chemotherapy possibly having no ability to bear my own children.
That said, age and maturity suggests and imposes on me a sense of both parenthood and grandparenthood that it is impossible for me not to at the very least feel like a parent would about their child or children in every way from the ordinary things of life, the celebration of successes or the unfortunate waves of anxiety and tragedy.
A lost integrity
In faraway South Korea, it was the man-made disaster of a ferry sinking that took with it hundreds of children’s lives as the captain of the ship shirked his responsibility and posed as a victim to get treatment.
Maritime responsibility has changed since the days of the Titanic or before then when the captain, Edward Smith went down with his ship rather than turn up later with crocodile tears asking for forgiveness and what not.
The ethos and integrity of captainship does not seem to have been installed in the captain of Costa Concordia and now MV Sewol, which meant that passengers under their care suffered where they should have been better cared for especially where the accidents in both cases were caused by grave errors of judgement committed by men with character flaws undiscovered until tragedy struck.
English for disasters
There is the other issue about the crew who were both chaotic and indecisive considering it was clear that the situation they were in was beyond redemption. Maybe it is a problem with the Power Distance Index of the Korean language as Malcolm Gladwell observed in his book Outliers with regards to air accidents.
It makes one suggest that in times of an emergency one should dispense with protocols and get straight to the point about what the power is, who it affects, what help is needed and be clear as to how soon they need that assistance.
From what transpired between the crew in the harbourmasters, neither was authoritative nor clear, in the process we have the tragedy of the needless loss of life that could been avoided even if the ship was definitely going to be lost. English offers clarity removing unnecessary hierarchies and probably should become the maritime language of communication as we have for aviation.
Peace, they must find
The agony of the parents unaware of the fact of their children’s watery demise is beyond what words can express, beyond being sorry for their loss, even enforcing the most severe penalties against the cowardly crew would not begin to assuage the pain of the death of the innocents.
May they find strength, comfort and some peace through their faith or any support systems made available to them in these troubling times.
Yet, we must save the children from those who would not assume the responsibility they have in despatching their duties.

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