The Thing I Like About …

Titanic: the part where the men have to stop and start the engines.

In Titanic, there’s a huge contrast between the third-class passengers (Jack) and first-class passengers (Rose). The first-class passengers barely seem to notice that they’re not at home. The third-class passengers and crew have a very different experience. The engine crew particularly have quite a task – they shovel coal into the boilers to power the engines of the ship. When the ship needs to go faster, they shovel more coal. When the ship needs to slow down, they shovel less coal. When the ship needs to go into reverse (ice berg), the men in the engine room handle that. Actually handle that. With their hands. Titanic, with its grandeur, its size, and its gigantic metal pistons, may be owned by first-class people, but it’s run by the men in the boiler room.

Everything on the Titanic was made by people, people who worked hard. Everything in the world – every piece of technology, every building, every article of clothing, every book, every road, everything – has been made by people who worked hard. Every advance, every war machine, every war, every exploration was built on the backs of workers.

We want to change the world for the better; we look around and see things that need improving, places where people could get along better, or plan better, or do better. That’s terrific; change for the better is great. But so many people are angry about it, as though the world has let them down in some way by not being “perfect”. But to see the world that way is to see it through the eyes of the first-class passengers, who barely notice they’re on a ship, and take all of the finery for granted, and disregard the people who created everything around them … first-class passengers who literally survived the Titanic disaster by stepping over the less fortunate.

If you like anything about the world you’re in, then like everything about the world you’re in … because all of it was built for you on the backs of men in boiler rooms. If you want to change the world, do it by honouring those people. Life will be brighter, I think, and change will be more meaningful.

And to all the “men” in “boiler rooms”? Thanks. Thank you very much.

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