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As I type this, there is a huge rescue effort ongoing in a race to find the submersible carrying five explorers who are on an expedition to view a vessel that has been sunk to the bottom of the oceon for over one hundred years, yep you guess it; The Titanic. What is essentially a gravesite beneath the ocean. This expedition cost each traveller about two hundred thousand pounds a pop. The submersible is reported to have lost connection with its station about two hours into its voyage and there are growing fears by loved ones, rescuers, and the public for their safety, as there should. The sub is said to only have about forty hours of oxygen left in its tank, at the time of writing this article.
Now, before this became big news, we didn’t know the identities or status of the explorers on board, but soon enough news started to shift significantly and we quickly learned that amongst them is a British billionaire, a Pakistani businessman and his son. In the UK, most every newspaper front page is leading with the story of the missing cohorts, the submersible, and growing concerns for their well-being.
As should be the case.
And yet… YET…
In the same week, a boat carrying several hundred migrants capsized on the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Greece, about one hundred bodies were found but there are fears hundreds more are dead. One hundred children are believed to have been kept in the bunker of the boat and remain unaccounted for. This is possibly the worst tragedy to have occurred in the Mediterranean Sea, but news coverage would have you believe the migrant accident, did not even happen. There is hardly any word on this save on social media where disparities have been drawn on the uneven coverage between these two occurrence. Cynicism aside, one would be forgiven to think socio economic disparity is one of the chief reasons as to why.
These are much maligned migrants making a perilous journey that governments around the world, have a hostile opinion on. You know, the ones from “shithole countries”.
These are migrants after all, coming to “invade” our shores and “take our jobs” and “cannibalise our compassion.”
What should we care?
Millionaires? Sure. Migrants? No thank you. Bolt the doors!
We shouldn’t have to make a choice as to whose story garners our sympathies.
We shouldn’t have to make a choice as to who gains our support.
We shouldn’t have to make a choice as to what story deserves our moral outrage.
As human beings, we can and do feel multiple emotions at once.
These situations are equally as sad as each other for the simple reason that lives are at stake.
The Canadian Armed Forces and the United States Coast Guard are the principal search and rescue teams involved in the search of the OceanGate Expedition vessel which we hope still has the five explorers on board. One British Billionaire. Two Pakistanis, father and son. One diver. And the CEO of the OceanGate vessel.
In the case of the migrant boat, amongst them Syrians, Egyptians and Pakistanis, there are disputing claims regarding what actions were or were not taken by the Coast Guards who would have received the distress call. There is wider outrage from the public than in the media, where we receive minute by minute update, on the number of hours left before the oxygen on the submersible runs out.
Human interest runs in varying degrees and will be determined largely by situations we find ourselves in and stories we can relate to, fictional or real, especially when considering socio-economic backgrounds. A boat carrying hundreds of migrants, capsizing enroute that dangerous journey has much less an appeal, will garner far less sympathy, in the media than say a vessel carrying five curious explorers enroute to the site of one of the greatest tragedies of the 19th century, which much has been made of in popular culture. It has all the makings to create even more cultural folklore for years to come. It is equal parts dramatic, equal parts tense, and all parts hopeful if a little bit of hubristic. We are human after all. I for one wasn’t aware that an expedition to see the remains of The Titanic was a thing, if anything this gives us an insight into the lifestyle of the wealthy, the very wealthy. Taking a vessel deep within the ocean to see another vessel that sunk beneath the oceans and claimed countless lives…
Mother Nature, it seems, is intent on always winning out, even as we pray for a reprieve this time round, she knows no master against her elements even in the face of curiosity that will spawn a good legend. Curiosity will always make the willing amongst us test the boundaries of Mother Nature, like Icarus on a sojourn too close to the sun. The ocean is vast and endless, in depth, it is almost depraved for us to want sink to her level. The remains of The Titanic with all her secrets, lies even deeper embedded in the ocean floor than ever imagined, 12,500 feet and change. These expeditions, whilst they may seem frivolous, have a cost to them, much like these migrant crossings; human lives, and the ocean has no preference for one over the other as Orcas would like to let us know.
Whilst we can appreciate the depths and wonders of curiosity, as is our want to do so, we can also empathise with those who have risked their lives out of desperation, not forgetting those involved in their search and rescue and the impact this will have on them for years to come.
The bottom-line is a duology; a bunch of wealthy people with the means to do so have used their resources to seek a depth beyond our realm, whether it be in outer space or in the deeper depths of the ocean, to challenge their minds in a restless quest for what lies beyond, and I hope against hope, that they are rescued and live to tell us all about it. The other side to this coin has several hundred people who set out in search of a better life across the ocean most never made it. We remember their courage and spare a thought and prayer for them also, because as humans, more connects us, regardless of the socio-economic background, than divides us. Love.