One for the Gibbet

It is possible to ask questions about the recent shipwreck, and we may choose to draw wider lessons or to resist that temptation.  One narrow lesson, though, is clear enough:  the captain should hang.

The chaos and the deaths, whatever else they are, represent a failure of leadership.  They are the direct result of an officer abandoning his post just at the moment when his post was most necessary.  If we would have the order we desire in these emergencies, we must enforce discipline on those charged with maintaining that order. The old standard that a captain goes down with his ship had a purpose; but even if we no longer wish to maintain that standard, the captain surely should not be the first man off of the ship, nor should we suffer him to refuse to return to his post.

Chesterton had King Alfred speak of these things to the people who came to him, asking that the king help them restore the order of the world.  Alfred replied in a metaphor, using the plucking of the White Horse to explain how all civilization depends on constantly renewing and reinforcing the old order.

  "And though skies alter and empires melt,
          This word shall still be true:
          If we would have the horse of old,
          Scour ye the horse anew.

          "One time I followed a dancing star
          That seemed to sing and nod,
          And ring upon earth all evil's knell;
          But now I wot if ye scour not well
          Red rust shall grow on God's great bell
          And grass in the streets of God."

1 comment:

Texan99 said...

Branded as a coward and a failed leader in the world's eye. Those recorded radio transmissions are horrible.

Whatever happens to him criminally, any life worth living will be hard to salvage out of this.