The Titanic Lifeboat Character Test

in life •  last year

Late in the night of April 14 and early morning of the 15th, 1912, the unthinkable happened. The Titanic, the world's greatest and most opulent ocean liner, struck an iceberg and sank into the frigid waters of the Atlantic claiming more than 1503 lives.

There were survivors, of course. Women and children were selected first for the limited spaces on the lifeboats, though most boats left Titanic's sinking well under full capacity. The combination of setting sail on "The Unsinkable" with insufficient lifeboats along with the arrogance of not heeding iceberg warnings were but two of the egregious errors contributing to this tragic (and avoidable) loss of life. Questions of safety and the glamour of luxury sea travel took a sobering turn with Titanic's demise.

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Let's go back to that night and examine the behavior of a Mr. J. Bruce Ismay, managing director and chairman of the White Star Line. To be fair, no one knows exactly what prompted Mr. Ismay to abandon ship while so many passengers slipped into their watery graves. We do know he never fully recovered from his controversial rescue and I can only imagine how survivor's guilt consumed him for the rest of his life. Be that as it may, Mr. Ismay's actions serve a purpose for my character test, so he remains important in that regard.

People do unthinkable things in a panic. Crises bring out the best and worst in others as well as ourselves.

In a life or death situation, where do you stand on that fine line between character and self preservation?

I like to think that if faced with such a dilemma, a rational calm might come over me and I would avoid a panicked frenzy of pushing people out of the way to save my own skin. In theory, we all like to think we would not cause harm to others when our existence is threatened.

Mr. Ismay deserted the ship he proudly built and stood behind to get a place on a lifeboat reserved only for women and children. Some say he even donned women's clothing to get away with it. At 6'4" tall, it would have been a sight to behold. This was a cowardly act no matter how you look at it. How many women and children died, let alone all unfortunate passengers, animals included, who trusted The Unsinkable to reach its final destination? The steerage class, or those who could not make it to the upper decks - they were the majority of those who perished. But some exceptionally wealthy and notable figures decided to end their days like ladies and gentlemen when push came to shove; John Jacob Astor IV, Benjamin Guggenheim, and Isidor Straus, along with his wife Ida (who refused to leave her husband's side) were among those who died that night. (Captain Edward Smith chose to go down with his ship as is customary in maritime code of conduct.) Does "going down with the ship" make one a lady or a gentleman? Certainly not by itself. But in a helpless situation, do you exit with grace and dignity or approach your fate with the every-man-for-himself mentality?

Mr. Ismay chose the latter and karma wouldn't forget.

Titanic.jpg

Whenever you are confronted with shady behavior from someone you know, ask yourself if they'd pass the Titanic Lifeboat test.

This mind "test" tells you everything you need to know about a person. I was married to a Joseph Ismay - a deserter. He wouldn't hesitate to shove me aside to claim a spot on a lifeboat. This realization was the catalyst that began the tumultuous unravelling of my marriage. I could not stay married to a man who would think nothing of sacrificing my life for his own.

It simply boils down to who has your back when it counts.

We are hard-wired for self preservation, but we also have moral codes to live by.

If a friend or partner would sell you out easily for his or her own gain, consider it a fair warning. You are not as valuable to him or her as you think. Now I don't advocate blissful partnerships being based on a "romantic" notion that someone must be willing to die to prove their love for you; rather, how quickly they put themselves first speaks volumes about how they'll behave when things get difficult. Pay attention to that.

Choose your comrades wisely.

The Titanic Lifeboat Character test. Who in your life would pass it, and who would not?

Siren2.png

photos courtesy of National Geographic
illustration of siren © 2014 Johanna Westerman

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A wonderfully deep, philosophical post. I keep my circle of close friends very small for this reason. It took a very long time for me to realize how few people in this world care enough to "pass the test." I am thankful to consider you one of those close friends.

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Thanks, my friend. We are a lot alike in many ways. The answers to this test have come in very handy.

What lies at the depths of the heart can be masked, or paraded as something it is not, but at a crucial time, the real person will show through. Fear and greed are two great ways to test a person's true character.

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@swenger, truer words have never been spoken. A person's true character can only be masked for so long. Thank you for your beautiful words. ;)

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we don't know who we really are till we are faced with real choice and real loss.

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That is something to keep in mind. I do think we know ourselves up to a certain extent. I do think it's a blessing to have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of someone's true colors before they have a chance to take advantage.

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yes agree , I think we all want to think we would do the right thing , and hope we would but , if the choice is your own death so some one else can live , who knows what most would do.

I follow a similar strategy. Since it is rather impossible to tell apart the 'good people', I watch actions instead of words. Not many people would pass the lifeboat test. In fact, you will soon realize that it is a really lonely world out there.

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@kyriacos, you are right. It is a lonely world. That's why I keep my circle small. You are right. Actions always do speak louder than words.

Interesting.
There is something like a gentleman's code. The code which was observed to a high degree on the Titanic. Unfortunately today the liberal theory of life cannot allow it. Chivalry today is looked down on and attacked by feminist when men act in this manner towards them. When the crisis occurs and panic steps in, this moral behaviour - which has been killed by modern ideas - is expected of men.

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@krabgat, yes, sadly, you speak the truth. Manners in general are lacking. Not that it's good manners to sacrifice your life - not what I'm saying. It's more about being decent and thinking about the overall wellbeing of others. Kindness. There's nothing wrong with chivalry. It's depressing to think it has to disappear.

You never know who will sell you out, maybe is that one you never think about...

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It was for me, @dreamrafa, although there were inklings things were amiss. Once I cast characters in these roles, though, it was obvious who would play them. Thanks for the comment!

nice...resteem and upvote for your...

Very interesting to ponder. I know of a few people right offhand who would pass the test, and a few who would not. Likewise, I know a few people for whom I myself would pass the test, and a few for whom I would not. Besides these few fairly certain ones, everyone else I know would require careful thought, and whether or not the test would be passed might well depend on the circumstances with each individual person. It is a complex philosophical question you ask, but an interesting one.

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Truly good message we do all know not everyone we had now as a friend, or a persons whom we considered important to us will likewise considered us as will important to the when sudden immeasurable things will happen. Because if we asked them now which side will they be if circumstances will happen natural they will stay in our side. But it's different when actual situation is really in there, we don't know they run first and leave us behind. We just have to think of it in a funny way then, if bad things happen then we both run in different direction to save our own hahaha! To light our day with a smile. @stephmckenzie :)

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Thanks, @stephmckenzie. I've been meaning to write this post for a long time. It did make me stop and think about primal human behavior. I don't think there's a definitive answer. It perplexes me. I do know many who would fail this one, though. What a horrible conundrum. I have nightmares about that dreadful night.

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Hey @fairytalelife take it easy u don't need to burden things too much, life is a journey, and with this journey we encounter other human being that will be part in it lives. Some will leave and go either in good or bad ways, just think about this they are all part of our journey they just passing by and been a piece of our journey to go farther and let them be part behind of where we headed for. Live life to the fullest, don't forget to smile.. :)

Great post and very thought provoking. Sadly, betrayal at the level you speak about can take an entire lifetime to get over, if ever. We must take heart, soldier on and realize that which does not kill us makes us stronger.

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Well said, @team101. It's a tough question to ask. But I think it's also a pretty good, though imaginary, way to judge someone's character. Sometimes it's a no-brainer. But other times, characters are only revealed under pressure. I consider it a freebie if I find out who has my back before it's too late. Thanks!

Great post my dear friend @fairytalelife..i am upvoting and following you!!

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Many thanks, @judeanthony. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Best kept secret in NYC....you can stay at the original hotel the survivors of the Titanic stayed at - and for just $99 a night! It is quite an experience (I have done it twice) and I highly recommend! http://www.thejanenyc.com/

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Hey! Thanks, @lanceman. That is a fantastic secret. The Jane. Hmm. Was it always called that? I will look it up. I'm sure the ghosts of the survivors roam the halls to this day.

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Not sure on the original name but haunted, Yes!! And the employees are all dressed in that era (kind of like Tower Of Terror at Disney, if you are familiar). The hotel is located on a discreet side street on the upper East end of Manhattan. The restrooms are communal but the stalls and showers are walled off for total privacy & the showers are the best of any 5 star hotel I have stayed at. Super cool & affordable place to crash for a weekend in NYC!

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I am down for that! How interesting. Perfect location, too. Not familiar with Tower of Terror myself but heard about it from others.

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Kind of spooky / eerie...but in a cool way! Hard to describe but def. check out the website.

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I will! Did you have other worldly experiences?

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Whelp. At one point...I did hear a banging noise, however, it is a hotel lol
Here is an excerpt from the history page:
"Completed in 1908, the American Seaman’s Friend Society Sailors’ Home and Institute was designed by William A. Boring, the architect renowned for Ellis Island’s immigrant station. Originally built as a hotel for sailors with cabin-like rooms, the landmarked hotel was lovingly restored on its centennial in 2008.
In 1912, the survivors of the Titanic stayed at the hotel until the end of the American Inquiry into the ship’s sinking. The surviving crew held a memorial service at the hotel four days after the ship sank."

Interesting... Followed you for more stories on your posts.

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Thanks, @arnel. I'm glad you enjoyed!

That's actually very wise. Sometimes you don't know until the moment of truth. I didn't know there was a test to predict that.

Thanks Johanna, I hope you are doing great!

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Yo alien! Thank you. So glad to see you commenting on my post. This is the test, Adil. it really is called the Titanic Lifeboat Test (it should be...). Such an appropriate test to see who is for real, I think. Sadly, those who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time found out the hard way. Cheers, and thanks again for your concern and friendship. xo

Terrific post fairytalelife. I will be following you my friend. SirKnight.

I know what you're all thinking, "I'd better put my best foot forward and tell everybody how courageous I would be."

I'd have said, "F&@K IT, LADY - GET OUT OF MY WAY! YOU GOTTA DIE!!!" :D

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honesty is also a virtue!

Outstanding post! The truthful answer I believe unfortunately is few. I'm fine with checking out when my time comes- especially if I can assist others and alleviate their fear in the process- We are eternal beings and life in this 3-d realm can be very challenging- nothing at all wrong going out in honor and being pf service to others in the process. Besides freezing to death is like going to sleep- a better test may be a burning building- would you go in? : )

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After you @thelightreport hahaha let's make it light and cheerful day then hahaha.

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I think now that I'm a mom I would run into a burning building to save a family member. Does that mean I wouldn't if it was a stranger? That is a good question. Some people I can say would no matter who needs help. I like to think I would - some adrenaline would kick in. But at the same time, I am indispensable to my children. If I perished, who would look after them? Thank you for the good question. Freezing to death doesn't seem too bad. But the panic of everyone left to die would be horrific. I guess you would hope your demise would be quick and it wouldn't be from getting clocked by a falling smokestack.

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Oh absolutely- I have three dogs that rely upon me for their beyond cush lifestyle - I guess the burning building model doesn't apply all that well for complete strangers. Sorry complete strangers but.......

You are absolutely right @fairytalelife. Thanks for sharing .

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Thanks for reading, @reenamatthew.

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You are welcome :)

I think it's natural, even healthy, to put your own survival first. In a big earthquake, my first reaction was to get to safety and my immediate second reaction was to make sure everyone else was safe. I think that's how it should be. You can't take care of others if you can't take care of yourself.

Every day life is not so dire for most of us, so in most choices, even when it gets really bleak, we don't have to choose to between ourselves and others, although it certainly seems that most people feel compelled to throw others under a bus or sacrifice themselves far too easily. I think it's always good to look for a way to make sure everyone wins. When it's not I give others a free pass if they look out for themselves. If someone wants to sacrifice themselves for others, that's really nice too, there might be some people I really love that I would sacrifice myself for under certain circumstances, but I don't really enjoy thinking about it.

Rather than judge people based on how they would act in the worst possible scenario, I focus on encouraging them to be decent people in the current situation.

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This is very true, @whatamidoing. I try to stay away from those who deliberately try to bring me down, and focus on the special people who bring out my best, and hope that I can do the same for them. Thanks for your thoughtful comment - it's a good way to stay focused on all the positives in our lives.

It's not over until the fat lady sings.

I always enjoy your well written, unique and deep stories, leaving me with questions about myself and many others.

Somehow I messed up that part in my life.

Choose your comrades wisely.

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Dear @mammasitta! Thank you so much. Alas, I have learned the hard way too. It's never too late to rethink who gets to be closest to you! xo

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One of those big lessons I have learnt and such joy to finally notice, I can count on myself and whoever wishes to join my "gang" is more than welcome. I bet you know what I mean.
Trust issues will never vanish but I have learnt to recognize the signs early enough to protect myself from jumping into foolish wild oceans to drown.

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I do, @mammasitta. I think a part of us will always second guess decisions based on our pasts. I learned to really pay attention to my instincts. They are always spot on. No drowning necessary!

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Head high up, keeping it out of deep waters! Pfff
I always listened to my instincts but unfortunately I wasted too much time to go in the opposite direction first. At the end we survive under the rainbow 🌈

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Hear! Hear!

I'd build a lifeboat to save the love of my life. I'd never abandon ship, even if I was asked to, even if she wanted me to live, I have no fear of giving my life for her to live, she knows that :) Upvoted and followed! A great read, thank you.

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@droidsid, bless your heart! She is a lucky woman. May it never come to that! Thank you for your comment.

Really enjoyed this post! Well done :)

Es una historia muy linda, y sobre todo es un hecho de la vida real, me gustó tu post

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Absolutely a great test you bring forward! I think the lifeboat doesn't have to be that big since most people will not pass the test. But, I made sure I have a few close friends that will for sure pass the test; And feel very fortunate to have those friends.

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You said it, @edje. Quality counts - there for you when you need and the other way around. Thanks for reading!

Congratulations @fairytalelife!
Your post was mentioned in my hit parade in the following category:

  • Pending payout - Ranked 8 with $ 570,84
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Wonderful! Thanks, @arcange.

After losing my brother, this helped me. I know it's not the same thing but a loss is a loss. For some reason, I held onto this.
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” —Richard David Bach.

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I'm sorry to hear of your loss, @rangertx. It's always gut-wrenching. That is a beautiful quote, and thank you for sharing.

Good day I've followed you and I like your publications, follow me and we help each other

Incredibly thought-provoking post. I know your question at the end was more so to think about the people you surround yourself with, but I also think it's important to ask ourselves if we are the type of person that would pass the test!

The Titanic Lifeboat test; I wonder how many would pass?

Thank you for your post it was very interesting. I wonder other then my immediate family members whom else would pass? In general people sacrifice for family, How are you suppose to guess how you would act in crises without having a crises?