Breaking Rules Can Save Lives.

J.M.W. Turner ‘Disaster at Sea’

It was summer, but the strong wind was about to knock Pierre Henin off his feet. He and dozens of fellow sailors were witnessing a disaster unfolding in front of their eyes. The French sailors were standing at the shore of Boulogne — a city north of France. There an English ship carrying 136 people (mostly women and children) was about to hit the rocks of the French coast, and as a tide was getting worse — the tragedy was becoming more imminent.

Nobody at the shore knew anything about this ship. Where was it heading to? Why was it carrying only women? Why wouldn’t the captain of doomed vessel use the lifeboats?

But what French sailors understood immediately was that they need to help to everyone who is on board. While Francous Heulet — a friend of Pierre — started preparing boats to head towards the English ship, Pierre was sure that there was no time left. He put his hat and shoes off and jumped into the water and began to swim towards the ship. The only way his friends could stop Pierre from doing this crazy act was to shout to him from the shore “Stop it Pierre. Come back!”. Nobody else would risk jumping into the water on that day.

Miraculously, Pierre got to the English ship. The member of the crew who saw how Pierre manfully was conquering the tight waves has dropped down the rope, so the French sailor wouldn’t be carried away by the waves.

“What the hell are you doing? Immediately start the evacuation! You are all about to die here!” shouted Pierre to him.

“This ship named Amphitrite is loaded with the female convicts and is headed towards Botany bay in Australia. These criminals are not authorised to step on any soil other than in Botany Bay!” — shouted the person who dropped the rope and later turned out to be the captain of the ship.

Pierre was still holding the rope and was left speechless. We can only guess what was going through the head of Pierre at that moment. He could see children on board screaming. Suddenly, he looked at the shore and saw Francois sailing to the ship in the boat.

When Francous finally got to Pierre and took him out of the cold water, they both tried to understand the chain of thoughts of the English captain. The Captain whose name was Hunter was blindly following the rules and by that he was about to kill everyone on board including more than 100 women, 16 children and all of the crew. The only chance to save all those lives was to negotiate with this man who has gone insane! But time was running out.

Tide was getting worse, hours were followed by minutes, minutes by seconds and all negotiations were gone in vein. Pierre and Francois had to get back to the shore, because the ship (which was much bigger than their boat) was about to crash the small vessel of two brave French men.

The team of French sailors stood on the shore of their native city Boulogne and were looking how a stubborn and insane English captain was writing a death verdict to his ship and everyone who was on board.

Only three members of the crew survived on that day. French sailors tried to catch the bodies out of the water and each time they hoped that someone, at least one more person would survive.

This story shocked Britain. Many tried to ignore this infamous tragedy. The well-known English painter JWS Turner was one of the people who couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He was not an eloquent speaker, but he was a magnificent artist. He began to draw the picture called “Disaster At Sea”, and according to a modern historian Simon Schama, he couldn’t finish it because of the vast criticism by his compatriots. Nobody wanted to talk about this.

This is a story of how important it is to make your own decisions in life. The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages.

In this story, those who broke the rules are heroes and those who followed them are villains. Pierre Henin became a hero, because he broke the rule of sanity for the sake of saving human lives and swam to the doomed English ship.

And of course it is also about captain Hunter, who showed that unfortunately those who follow the rules have often more power over the fate than those who break them.

It is also a story of a great English painter JWS Turner who broke the rules of silence in order to tell this fate of innocent people who died in the hands of their idiot captain. Turner could follow the rules and paint something less dangerous to his reputation, but he chose otherwise. Without Turner your wouldn’t have read this story.

Be conscious, make your own decisions.


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