Humans have an instinctive need to celebrate beginnings — New Year’s Day, the birth of a child, the launching of a newbuilding ship, etc. Such events do not only mark the start of something new. They evoke feelings of hope, which is the one essential quality that separates man from animals.
Not believing in one’s self and one’s abilities can be a problem especially for Third World ship officers and crews. Many are too diffident to assert their rights, and they often display a slavish attitude towards foreign senior officers. But even those who seem so sure of themselves may see their self-confidence eroded in the face of danger or extreme difficulties.
Marine Café Blog had a post-Thanksgiving Day chat with Frankie the Sage Cat. As expected, he said a mouthful about maritime conferences, seafarer charities and other matters. For those not familiar with Frankie, he’s a real cat who understands humans in an uncanny way. He must be at least 12 years old now, but he still has a sharp mind.
Life is short and perilous — and not only for seafarers. The rich and the mighty may seem to live it up, but life is no less complicated for them. William Shakespeare undertood this truth all too well.
The following quotes, all from women, deal with the general subject of men. The authors do so with such frankness that the less enlightened males might feel offended. But given the fact that the world of shipping is still very much dominated by men and haunted by machismo, these quotes make for interesting reading — for men as well as for women.
I had the good fortune recently of finding a book with the unassuming title ‘Proverbs’. Published in 1854, it was written by Rev. William Scott Downey, an American Baptist pastor before he became an Episcopelian. It is a slim volume of 110 pages or so, but it contains some nuggets of wisdom for today’s seafarers and other maritime folks. Here are 21 of Downey’s proverbs:
There is faith of the religious sort. There is also faith in the general sense — that is, immense trust or confidence in something or someone. It could be anything: a system, a particular individual, humankind, or life itself. Either way, faith is essential. A person without it is like a rudderless, anchorless ship drifting at sea.
A conversation can be interesting and enjoyable, or it can be insipid and tiresome. The difference lies in what people are able and willing to put into it. Conversation is an art. Those who are good at it make the interaction a gratifying experience for themselves and for others involved.
Paintings of glorious sunsets at sea, swarthy fishermen, dramatic naval battles, and heart-wrenching shipwrecks may move and inspire the viewer. But there is no marine art more touching and endearing than that which depicts children by the sea. Here are some examples coupled with a few words of wisdom about children.
Women’s voyage to equality has been long and difficult. And it is not over yet. Even in the shipping world, where one hears a loud clamour for gender equality, women have a long way to go. Why, for instance, has there been no female elected to the post of secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)? Or why is it that no seafarers’ union has ever been led by a woman?
Digging up quotable quotes about the workers who load and unload vessels — stevedores, dockers or longshoremen — can be a real challenge. Try hard as I did, I managed to find online a mere handful which I thought would be worth sharing.
I should have expected this to be the case. Far fewer books and articles have been written about waterfront workers than about seafarers. Poems on the subject, at least those written in English, are as rare as the Casper Octopus. Doesn’t this speak volumes?
Speeches and slogans abound in the maritime world. Yet, not many have mastered the art of rhetoric — that is, the effective use of language to influence or persuade others.
Certainly not the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The reason that its buzzwords and slogans are instantly repeated throughout the shipping industry is not because of it is skilled in rhetoric but because those who echo the IMO’s words do not question their sincerity or if they even match reality.