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A Times Editorial

100 years later, 'Titanic' still offers lessons

The RMS Titanic settled 12,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, leaving behind more than 1,500 doomed souls. But for the past 100 years, Titanic's existential journey has continued onward, capturing the hearts and imagination of millions of people still captivated by the ill-fated ship's human story lines and cautionary tales.

There have been more sweeping disasters, claiming vastly more lives. But in its own way, through countless books, movies and exhibits, the Titanic — because of a single iceberg — remains the universal touchstone of promises shattered by the capriciousness of fate.

The Titanic brought together a rich tapestry of dramas. The sinking exposed moments of courage and cowardice. This is a love story too, with Ida Straus refusing to leave the ship in order to die with her husband, Isidor, the owner of Macy's department store. The tragedy revealed gaping social class fault lines as third-class passengers, trapped deep below deck, had almost no chance to escape.

When it embarked from Southampton, England, on April 10, Titanic was regarded as the most state-of-the-art piece of machinery in history. Five days later it was gone, proving that human error and hubris too often find a way to trump technology. That remains a lesson for the ages.

100 years later, 'Titanic' still offers lessons 04/13/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 13, 2012 9:32pm]
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