When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. –Proverbs 11:2
The early 20th Century was a time of amazing advancements and optimism. Within the span of just a few years, exciting technological breakthroughs included electric lights, automobiles, airplanes, telephones, radio broadcasts, the phonograph, etc. The field of shipbuilding had grown much too. New ships were bigger, faster, and fancier than ever before. Plus, new designs like double hulls and automatically locking doors made ship travel seem safer than ever before. Speaking in an interview in 1907, a British captain, Edward Smith, proudly declared he could not “imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.”
In fact, just five years after that interview, Smith had been appointed captain of a brand-new ship belonging to Britain’s prestigious White Star Line. The new ship boasted a comfort and opulence usually reserved for luxury hotels, such as live bands, oriental carpets, and crystal chandeliers. Confidence in the safety of the ship was so high, the owners and builders cancelled plans for 64 lifeboats. The owners settled for the placement of 20 lifeboats on the ship. That number was higher than government regulations called for at the time, but was only enough to accommodate about half of the 2,228 passengers. At the launch of the ship, one employee of the White Star Line gushed, “Not even God could sink this ship.”
As the vessel sailed across the North Atlantic from Britain to the US in April 1912, officers received numerous warnings from other ships in the area of numerous icebergs. Ignoring the warnings and filled with pride, one officer reportedly told Captain Smith, “We will beat the Olympic and get in to New York on Tuesday.” Instead of being more careful, the speed was maintained and no additional lookouts were posted. Striking an iceberg, the vessel quickly took on water and within a couple of hours the “unsinkable ship” did the unthinkable…it sank. Over 1,500 perished in the icy North Atlantic. The ship’s name? The RMS Titanic. The word for you today is, avoid pride and with humility seek wisdom.