Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Rules of Boating and the Powerful Giving Way to the Powerless

Marian Wright Edelman mentions Dr Eileen Lindner who shared this story of taking her car to a Jiffy Lube for servicing:

Not having anything to read, she picked up a manual on the coffee table about boating. A chapter on the rules for what happens when boats encounter one another on the open sea described two kinds of craft: burdened and privileged.

The craft with power that can accelerate and push its way through the waves, change direction, and stop on demand is the burdened one.

The craft dependent on the forces of nature, wind, tide, and human effort to keep going is the privileged craft.

Since powerful boats can make their way forward under their own power, they are burdened with responsibility to give the right of way to the powerless or privileged vessels dependent on the vagaries of the tide, wind and weather.

“Who wrote this thing?” Eileen asked. “Billy Graham? Mother Teresa? What’s going on in our land when the New Jersey Department of Transportation knows that the powerful must give way if the powerless are to make safe harbor and the government of the United States and the Church of Jesus Christ and other people of God are having trouble with this concept?”

Source: Marian Wright Edelman, The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is So Small (New York: Hyperion, 2008), 47-48.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “…what happens when boats encounter one another on the open sea…”