I can guarantee you've heard the story before. It involves sub-zero waters, a sinking ship and a soul-crushing end to "one of the most beautiful romances of all time." The film attracted gold star ratings and as a result it suddenly became cool to pretend to be flying while hanging off the side of a boat.
It made women swoon and men feel crushed by a new weight of romantic expectations. Celine Dion made a few dollars out of it and James Cameron cemented his name into filmmaking history.
Yet it took well over two decades, a chilly winter's night and the purchase of the 'Best Picture Oscars DVD Box set' before I indulged in the film. It was a pleasant watch and I did find my eyes sweating occasionally. Okay so 78 per cent of the film merely shows two people running away from water, but the unrealistic, drama of the love story definitely made up for it.
However, by the time the credits were rolling I didn't start clapping or reach over for a tissue. Instead I sat starring at the screen; my brain accelerating into overdrive.
To clarify, I did ponder the popular conspiracy that there was room for Jack to float with Rose on the piece of wood they found. However, this was not the reason for my disappointment, nor was my disappointment due to the film's bittersweet ending.
Let me paint the scene for you: A ship is sinking and people are freezing to death. They latch onto floating icebergs and rubble as they scream out for their loved ones. Panicking some keep splashing to stay afloat while others splash to keep the blood circulating to their numbing limbs.
Twenty life boats
Rewind a bit further and people are scrambling to the life boats as news the ship is sinking begins to spread around the passengers. From what we know today, the lifeboats - or the lack of lifeboats — on the RMS Titanic played a crucial role in the disaster. There were too few lifeboats to evacuate all those on board. Only 20 lifeboats were supplied, which could only fit 1178 people, even though there were around 2223 people on board at the time (thank you Wikipedia).
Already the rescue efforts were heading towards disaster — but things got worse. Passengers grabbed their jewels and loved ones as safety and comfort became their first priority. Women and children were evacuated first, as per maritime tradition, but many of the lifeboats still carried only half of the maximum amount they could fill. There are claims of some doors being locked to prevent many passengers from getting on boarding order to avoid overfilling the boats. There were also claims of panicked passengers turning away others, afraid the boat would buckle under too much weight.
This meant many of the boats ended up half-filled and did not reach their full capacity. Furthermore the boats were rowed away from the ship rather than returning to the wreck, as there were protests from passengers and crewmen who wanted to avoid being swamped by drowning victims trying to get on board.
People are drowning
Out of the 20 life boats, only two returned to pull survivors out of the water. Only two life boats had people willing to risk unbalancing their boat and potentially being thrown in the water themselves.
Honestly I couldn't say what I would have personally done in that terrifying situation. However I still think it is horrible to think that out of the 1500 people that died, a few more might have been saved if people had been willing to reach out to those drowning around them.
Is this the same for the church? Are we too comfortable and safe to go back for those that might rock the boat a bit too much? Are we too scared to go into waters where people are drowning in case our own boat capsizes or those drowning pull some of us out of the boat with them?
The world is a sinking ship but God was great enough to throw out life rafts for those who choose to jump on board. When God gave us the church he didn't give us specified seating arrangements or guarantee life for only a few. Instead he told us to jump in and cling on for life because one day a rescue boat will come and we will finally get to safety.
There's another famous story about a Priest and Levite who walked past a man lying half-dead on the side of the road. The story doesn't give room for the Priest or Levite to explain or justify why they couldn't stop and look after the dying man. They merely saw this man as an interruption to their ministry and walked on. It wasn't until a Samaritan came, saw him and "took pity on him" (Luke chapter 10, verse 33) that the man finally was rescued. Jesus at the end of the story tells us simply to "go and do likewise" (verse 37a).
It's easy to love someone as ourselves until we get interrupted, until our own comfort is jeopardized and until our own boat is rocked. But as Christine Caine describes, "compassion is not compassion until we are willing to be interrupted". We should not live for the purpose of arriving at death's door safety — we should be focused on the people in the waters around our life boat.
I don't want to wait until the rescue boat arrives to realise that I had space in my boat for thousands of people around me that could have made it but didn't.
Elesha Edmonds is sad to announce the death of her thirteen-year-old pet fish who passed away whilst she was in Europe training to be a foreign correspondent journalist. In lieu of flowers, please feel free to follow @eleshaedmonds on Twitter.
Elesha Edmonds' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/elesha-edmonds.html