Going On The Account: Pressing Your Luck

A more detailed account appeared today about the death of two security providers for the MV Maersk Alabama.


Yes, that ship, the same one whose encounter off Somalia made Americans aware of modern pirates and spawned a film up for an Academy Award this Sunday.  Like all vessels not sunk by pirates, she was gone over after the encounter, made seaworthy again, and sent on her way, hoping never to see anything like this again.


At least she had before two ex-SEALs hired to defend her were found dead in their cabins.


They make mention of it in passing in the piece and try to quash it there, so let’s be clear here:  There is no Maersk Alabama curse.  Five years between two incidents with tangential connection does not constitute a Jonah ship.  If such things like this had any weight, Carnival Cruises would have been scuttled and NBC would have long ago cancelled Saturday Night Live to fight its curse, both of which some folks out there might still want to see…


The sad fact is, claims of curses are not warranted.  Bad luck, maybe, if you can believe in luck as being bad.


I think I can say without fear that there is luck in the world, a certain amount of chance that affects everything.  It allows for some groups of people to find favorable conditions that encourages them, and for some to have the odds become ever so much longer.  It allowed for some of the winners of the past a chance to thrive, and proved too much of an impediment to some who might have been better able to make a go otherwise.


There was no pre-ordained factor planned out to make Cortes’ invasion of Mexico an automatic success; he had some luck go his way in terms of who he met and what happened to the Nahua before he got there.  There were plenty of factors by design to allow for sea dogs of the Golden Age of Piracy to be a success, but any one of them who denied the role of luck in their ventures was a damned fool.  My getting you to read this piece, despite all the marketing tricks I can afford without selling my soul, ultimately relies on an act of chance that you got this far.


But while there is luck in the world, I’m not convinced of it being “good” or “bad.”  Luck is like other primal elements, in that it exists for good or ill, and that it’s how we make the most of it that determines its character.  Like fire and rain, it exists, and how we work with it and react determines how we move ahead.


What happened to Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy is a sad tragedy that hopefully will be explained soon, with appropriate closure to come.  But to call it a “curse” at any time would be a disservice to them or the ship they were upon.