On March 22nd, around 12:30 am, the 125 meter-long B.C. Ferries ship Queen of the North apparently ran aground and sank in less than an hour, 130 km south of Prince Ruppert. Ninety-nine passengers and crew were rescued, two are missing.
If the two missing passengers are actually lost, this is a tragedy and my heart goes to their friends and family. I’m still hoping that there was an error in the manifests or that they managed to get rescued by a third party and just didn’t report in.
This being said, I have to voice out my disgust at the media’s reaction to this, as in so many other situations. They act like vultures feeding on dead meat, except that most of the time, they don’t wait for the prey to be dead and start feeding before the story has come to an end…
Ships will sink, planes will crash, trains will collide. It’s unavoidable. It is due to the combination of human characteristics and mechanical laws. Failure is bound to happen at some point. If you use or get involved in those means of transportation, you are silently acknowledging that fact. But these means of transportation are still much safer than our daily activities of smoking and driving our cars. Yet we fail to point our fingers at those real murderers, maybe because the medias don’t either.
So when something goes wrong, why are we so prompt to look for someone else to blame? Maybe it’s time we took our responsabilities and accepted to be in charge of our own lives, including what goes wrong in there. Sometimes, no one is to blame. Shit just happens.
As far as I know, as of yesterday, no one was complaining about the B.C. Ferries fleet safety record. The tourism industry uses them happily, so does the local population. Yet, today the newspapers (I won’t quote names not to make enemies unnecessarily) were having a feast on B.C. Ferries’ back. One of them had a special column on page 5 (fifth page in a row to deal exclusively with the sinking) of 15 incidents having involved B.C. Ferries ships in the last… 36 years!
We’re talking about a fleet that currently logs around 145,000 sailings a year. That’s 15 incidents for over 5 million sailings. All right, let’s say the numbers were lower back then. 15 incidents for, say 500,000, or a 1,000,000 sailings. That’s still an amazing safety record. And then in those 15 incidents, somebody was killed when a ferry collided with a power boat. Duh. Which of a power boat and a ferry has the best chances of seeing – and avoiding – the other??? Once again, I’m not taking sides, there might have been grave mistakes made, but does it turn the event into a systematic rule?
Yet, that newspaper titled its column “A history of trouble”. So what are we after here? Blood? Somebody’s blood will spill for sure, if somebody was actually guilty, when the investigation concludes. Until then, can’t we just feel sympathy for the ones affected and accept the fact that life is inherently dangerous?
Living in a fake cocoon pretending that nothing can touch us and that if something does, it will be somebody else’s fault, won’t change the unavoidable: we are all mortals, and some will go before others.
There are times when things just go wrong. It does not happen often, and it should not be so artificially built up into a media frenzy. Because while we are staring at that front-page, a thousand people are dying of other causes that won’t even make the last newspaper page, whether because of drugs, firearms, car accidents, illness, hunger, stupid wars, intolerance, or just plain bad luck or the end of the road.