Which Way Are We Headed?
Forward? Backward? Up? Down?
Even though Captain Jack Sparrow went down with his sunken ship, he at least knew he was heading towards ashore apparently as his ship neared bottom.
Out of obligation, duty or tradition, seafarers have often lived by an honor code that sea captains should always go down with their sinking ship. Other mariners and sea-going communities interpret this nautical code of honor as the sea captains is ultimately responsible. So, if his ship is to be abandoned, the captain is always expected be the last man aboard his vessel.
From Wikipedia:"The captain goes down with the ship" is an idiom and maritime tradition that a sea captain holds ultimate responsibility for both his ship and everyone embarked on it, and he will die trying to save either of them. Although often associated with the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 and its captain, Edward J. Smith, the phrase predates the Titanic by at least 11 years. In most instances the captain of the ship forgoes his own rapid departure of a ship in distress, and concentrates instead on saving other people. It often results in either the death or belated rescue of the captain as the last person on board.
I grew up learning about Quakerism. when I was 30 years old, I even taught English in a Quaker school in Philadelphia. I have had a lifelong love/hate affair with how Quakers make decisions. Every Friends community decision was always made through consensus - that is, EVERYONE had a voice, a say, an opinion and each perspective had to be shared and heard before a joint direction was reached. There was never a vote or a raising of hands. The majority was always a feeling of general consent.
I remember one particular end-of-the-year faculty meeting where it took one hour for 100 teachers to select ONE graduation award. And there were no fewer than 20 graduation prizes to be decided after that first one. That was a faculty meeting from heaven and hell. While it was frustratingly long, it was also incredibly powerful when everyone in attendance felt enfranchised and valued...if not exhausted. No one left that room, feeling left out! An ultimate democratic experience!
Whenever I contemplate America's future, I imagine powerful decision-makers choosing the country's course. After careful consideration of all the alternatives, they would undoubtedly mull over what directions or options are realistically available to them. They would hopefully consider ALL ramifications and ALL possible calamities as well as unintended consequences. And hopefully the public will then trust their elected leaders to choose wisely, ethically, responsibly, expeditiously and fairly.
Unfortunately, the adverbs "politically" and "selfishly" often creep into the decision-makers' thinking. So finding a direction is rarely easy when many lives are involved. And one voice could influence all the thinking. If you have ever watched the play 12 Angry Men, you would know the challenges of decision-making.
When I study any nautical chart or GPS, I read the surface signs, but I also read between the symbols. I often consider various advantageous and unsafe routes by examining what other factors that come into play such as boat speed, power, tide, wind, waves, crew, time of day and weather conditions before choosing a course and direction. Many leaders have to consider their position, purpose, passions, people or principles as well as the causes, concerns, conditions and maybe even the constellations before choosing the correct course.
What is our path? How do we proceed?
Which way do we go? What is our destination?
Where we are usually refers to our body's location, but what may be more vital and essential is where we are emotionally, spiritually, economically, relationship-ly or professionally. Whether we are on a beach, on the bay or on a boardwalk, where we are inside our heads and bodies is where we really are. We can be headed just about anywhere if our head and heart are pointed in a certain direction. But when we are unsure or uninformed, our thoughts and feelings can sometimes confuse and cause us to make poor decisions.
How many of us have ever asked for directions
only to discover we become more lost than ever?
Sailing alongside a school of killer whales
We all need and want some direction. American society supposedly values human choice and protects individual rights. Of course, the right to choose our direction is fundamental to a course of freedom. Whether it is healthcare, health bars or health clubs for example, Americans now have so many choices that our options are often so staggering and stultifying, choosing has become more difficult than ever.
Term: Nautical Direction Term Usage / Common Cruiser Usage
- abaft:at or toward the stern of a ship / further back from a location.
- aboard: onto or within a ship, or in a group.
- amidships: near the middle part of a ship.
- Aft: At or near the stern / ”Do I ‘aft’ to do the dishes?”
- afloat: floating in water; not sinking / out of debt or difficulty
- aground: resting on the shore / wedged against the sea floor.
- ahull: with sails furled / helm lashed alee.
- alee: on or toward the lee / the downwind side.
- aloft: the stacks, masts, rigging, or other area above the highest solid structure.
- aport: toward the port side of a ship (opposite of "astarboard").
- astarboard: toward the starboard side of a ship (opposite of "aport").
- astern: toward the rear of a ship (opposite of "forward").
- athwartships: toward the sides of a ship.
- aweather: toward the weather or windward side of a ship.
- aweigh: just clear of the sea floor, as with an anchor.
- below: a lower deck of the ship.
- belowdecks: inside or into a ship, or down to a lower deck.
- bilge: the underwater part of a ship between the flat of the bottom and the vertical topsides
- bottom: the lowest part of the ship's hull.
- bow (or stem): front of a ship (opposite of "stern")
- fore or forward: at or toward the front of a ship or further ahead of a location (opposite of "aft")
- leeward: side or direction away from the wind (opposite of "windward").
- port: the left side of the ship, facing forward (opposite of "starboard").
- starboard: the right side of the ship, when facing forward (opposite of "port").
- stern: the rear of a ship (opposite of "bow").
- topside: on the ship's main weather deck.
- weather: side or direction from which wind blows (same as "windward").
- windward: side or direction from which wind blows (opposite of "leeward").
Look out and down before you slide!
Sailing along a mountainous ocean range iceberg
Sometimes our greatest fear resides inside our life raft - our ego? our fears? our inner animal?
All humans CAN NOT choose their...
- human body
- parent's DNA
- skin and hair color
- race and ethnicity
- sexual orientation
- position within family
- parent's socio-economic situtation / position in society
- persona, aura, persona, a personality, core self
- passions and loves
- family history
- children or their children
- others' lives
- So why not accept in others and in ourselves
- that which we had
- no choice?
All humans can choose... EVERYTHING ELSE