I was on the great ocean liner, the Titanic.
All around me the ship and its surroundings were beautiful, but eerie and foreboding in that dreamlike way… and, of course, I knew, in advance, of the ship’s eventual fate. Then, suddenly it was evening and I saw the fateful iceberg on the horizon. I warned a crewmember. “We know,” he said, “we’re not worried.”
I demanded to see the captain and, instantly, (in that way dreams have) he was there, professionally “calming” me. I explained to him the ship’s fate if we did not change course, and he seemed very kind and sympathetic. He assured me he was “personally opposed” to icebergs, but he did not change course.
Somehow (in the dream, you know how they are) I was in command of all the scientific details and could explain them to the Captain. I calculated the size of the iceberg by the portion that was visible above water and explained the inevitability of the disaster to him based on the physical properties of ice and seawater and the mass, construction and velocity of the ship. He was impressed by my command of the facts (as if I were auditioning for a play) and he did not disagree, but he would not change course.
I became more demanding and raised my voice. Passengers gathered until there was a large crowd and a long discussion ensued. As the impact approached I grew progressively more insistent. I described vividly how the hull would tear and the lower chambers fill with water. He implored me to tone down my rhetoric.
I described the panic that would ensue on deck. He replied that they had violinists. I told him of the breakup of the hull. I described the fires, the screaming, and the loss of the ship. I assured him and everyone within earshot that all this would occur if he didn’t change course. He said my modus operandi was “an offensive and incendiary criticism of those who didn’t agree with me”! And in the next breath he claimed he basically agreed with me.
A small crowd gathered around me. But a larger one gathered around the Captain and urged me to stop talking. They covered their ears and talked loudly trying to drown me out and the Captain was pleased at that. He said I was the sort of person that demanded that everyone always agree with me 100%. He remained calm and immovable; suave, actually. But I was the opposite: close to desperation. I described the freezing water and recounted the obvious scarcity of lifeboats. He said I was “beating him over the head with inflammatory abuse.”
Finally I told of the drownings and the sharks. He lost all patience. He said “You fool! Many of my crew members oppose shipwrecks! We are against drownings and sharks! Your abusive method of communicating actually hurts your cause and drives people away!” And it was true. They hated my message. They hated me and wanted me to leave and make the message go away. It was not a comfortable, unifying message. Even my supporters began to doubt because the Captain was better looking. Many wanted someone more suave. But no one could challenge my facts. No one could gainsay the science. They didn’t even try. And they sailed on without changing course.
But there was a small well-educated and experienced group who could understand what I was saying and knew it was true. They told me, “Forget them! Let’s just take the best lifeboats and abandon this lost cause before the impact.”
But I said, “No! I need you here to help change minds and save the ship first.”
“If we fail and they don’t change course the ship will sink and we can launch the lifeboats when the ship is breaking up.”
But the Captain said, “See! He wants to sink the ship and launch a new course when it sinks. He’d rather sink the ship than respect those who disagree!”
“You have caused nothing but division,” he shouted at me, “you care nothing about the unity of the passengers!”
But you know how dreams are, those bizarre transitions. Suddenly I was floating above the ship watching the disaster take place just as I had explained it. Many were screaming in fear as it slowly sank and some were screaming in hatred for me. They were blaming me. I was just seeing it from above, like a movie camera. But I was crying. I couldn’t stop sobbing, in fact. And the ship just kept sinking, the waves devouring helpless passengers. We’ve all seen the movies. We’ve seen all of them over and over again. Not just ships, whole nations sinking under corruption.
Such sinkings require more than corrupt governments. It takes a huge buffer zone of smooth and accommodating administrative leaders to pacify the public; to keep the passengers in place, docile. They are men who think toleration of corruption is the same as wisdom, who think moral compromise for personal gain is the same as political skill, who will, later, say they were “just taking orders.”
They prosper at the expense of the very people they lead.
When will I wake up?