Posted by on March 30, 2021

            I had no idea that we depended so much on the Suez Canal.

            After the news broke about the Empire State Building-sized cargo vessel being stuck diagonally in the canal, effectively bringing world trade to an immediate halt, I wondered how those who oversee world trade could put so many eggs in one basket.  I guess the geography of the area plays the most important role.  The Canal, built in the mid-1800s, provides the shortest distance between the Mediterranean and Red Seas.  That fact alone explains its importance to commerce around the world.

            But it also explains why there is such a major impact on that commerce when something goes wrong.  As of this writing, very little has been said about why the captain was incapable of preventing the huge vessel from ending up “gizzy-wobbly” in the water.  I heard that the ship had been blown by strong winds into that position, ending up with its bow firmly embedded in the sand along the shore.  As of last night (March 29) reports were coming out that, after much effort by numerous tug boats and a dredging company, the bow had been dislodged and the ship returned to its proper position in the water.  The reports also noted that other shipping vessels had been log-jammed at either end of the canal, waiting for this huge boat to be freed.  Some estimates claim that it could take weeks for trade to come back to its normal speed.

            I think one lesson to be learned from this experience is not to depend too much on one thing or one person.  In this case, an immense amount of goods was stacked on a ship that was disproportionately large.  I understand that there’s an efficiency concern here: why pay for several smaller carriers when you can stack the same quantity of stuff on one large one?  It has apparently worked well for years, but, as we have now found out, it comes with a risk.  And even one misstep can set things back to an unimaginable extent.  It would be interesting to calculate how the losses of the past couple of weeks compare to the cost of using several smaller vessels to determine if the present methods are all that cost-effective.

            But I digress.  The real lesson for daily living is that there is only one Person in whom we can safely place all our trust.  All others are prone to failure.  ALL others.  At some point, our family, our friends, our church brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our classmates, our colleagues, our coworkers – the list goes on – will let us down, hurt our feelings, betray us to a greater or lesser degree, and we end up stuck like the vessel in the Canal.  Again, as the old adage teaches: don’t put all the eggs in one basket.

            Better to spread our connections around a bit so that when one person lets us down, there’s someone else to pick us up.

Posted in: Writings