Lighthouse values

14 September 2009

Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities. Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, ‘Light, bearing on the starboard bow’. ‘Is it steady or moving astern?’ the captain called out. Lookout replied, ‘Steady, captain’, which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship. The captain then called to the signalman, ‘Signal that ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees.’ The captain said, ‘Send, I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees’. ‘I’m a seaman second class’, came the reply. ‘You had better change course 20 degrees’. By that time, the captain was furious. He spat out, ‘Send, I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees’. Back came the flashing light, ‘I’m a lighthouse’. We changed course.
Steven Covey
In Christopher Gleeson SJ
Canopy of Stars

Christopher Glesson, in his Book “Canopy of Stars” says the story is not lost in explaining the lighthouse as the solid values that guide our lives. We could say that in the waywardness and distractions of our own games and maneuvers we suddenly end up heading right for such collisions with what we know are our own solid principles. The question is whether we fight the beacon of light and argue that what we hold dear should change, or whether we recognise that it is ourselves that need to change direction so that we can take a grasp of the characteristics of our surrounds.


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