Spirit on the Spirit of Tasmania

Ok, so some people may know that my family and I were on the recent Spirit of Tasmania voyage that lost a man overboard.

I don’t want to sensationalise things, or try and make this a thing about myself, but after having this experience, I do want to say a couple of things on the subject.

One thing that I say to my son as often as I can when bad things happen is that I believe people are inherently good. It may be naive, but that is what I think. And I love the fact that this view gets vindicated so often; time and time again. Sure there are horrible examples of people doing terrible things, but these are the outliers, and I would argue that the bulk of humanity are good decent people.

So when the alarm sounded on-board last night, and people drifted drearily yet urgently toward the mass meeting at the rear of the Spirit of Tasmania, it would have been easy to imagine people being irritated, or annoyed at such an upset to their plans. But when people began to understand the nature of the situation, and that it was someone’s life possibly on the line it was amazing to see everyone come together in solidarity.

No one was complaining; no one appeared irritated. There was a solemn atmosphere as everyone’s thoughts were clearly with the man overboard, and the rescuers putting their lives at risk to help (one of whom was apparently injured).

People are inherently good.

What’s more, you hear a lot about people alleging our current selfie generation, and how people are all too keen to snap a photo, or click a button, rather than engage in something truly human. Yet when there were lights spotted out the windows, and people could see the rescue vehicles going about their job trying to provide essential assistance, there was no flurry of cameras, there were no extended arms trying awkwardly to get cameras far enough to include their owners faces in the frame. People were interested yes, people looked on, and passed on information to those around them. But it wasn’t selfish, it wasn’t for them; it was for others.

People are inherently good.

After nearly three hours sitting in our makeshift meeting area, when we would all have preferred to be sleeping in our undulating cabins, nary a complaint was heard. People were worried, people may have been scared, but they were nevertheless united in an understanding that no matter what inconvenience might have befallen us that night, it paled in comparison to whatever was taking place on the roiling seas below, and the impact it would have on other peoples lives.

People are inherently good.

In those seas below was yet another sign of people lending a hand. Two freighters joined the search, circling in a makeshift flotilla of hope. The second Spirit of Tasmania halted its journey back to Melbourne to lend a hand, and remained there until early this morning. The crew had earlier asked for help in spotting the man in need of rescue, scores of hands rose instantly in the air.

People are inherently good, and though this was undoubtedly a terrible event, a horrible night on the Bass Strait that appears to ultimately have ended with a life lost. It nevertheless reinforced in my mind the fact that us humans are deep down a decent bunch. We care about others we don’t know, we are willing to put aside ourselves when others are in need, and we do it all instinctively.

People are inherently good.

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