Living in the sight and smell of feces and urine, with raw sewage at their feet, limited water, not much electric, no heat or air-conditioning, and not enough food – this is not what the people on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship had signed up for. This was no way to live. They deserved better. It was unacceptable. Yet this is how they spent their Mardi Gras and began their Lent.
In communication with loved ones by cell phones many gave accounts of the good service of the crew. They spoke about how they were making do with what they had (or didn’t have). They lived in hope and trust that their ordeal would eventually be over.
In the port on shore the CEO of the cruise line made no excuses but only apologies, “We pride ourselves on providing our guests with a great experience, and clearly we failed in this particular case.”
As we begin our Lent and ponder how disgusting it must have been to live those days on the ocean liner, we remember that there are people in the world who live that way all the time: the way human beings are not meant to live. There are people who never have utilities and facilities, who are always without water, food and electric, and who are without any hope that their ordeal will come to an end. This is unacceptable. Maybe this event – and this Lent – will make us more grateful, when we flush the toilet, turn on the lights, open our refrigerator and make our beds. Maybe this event – and this Lent – will find us more inclined to be of good service to those who do not have something that they deserve.
Maybe this event – and this Lent – will cause those of us who stand on the shores of comfort or cruise through life in luxury to catch a glimpse of the suffering of others. Maybe in the next forty days we will be shown some way of working toward fixing things and making things right for someone else.