Gulliver's Liliputs live on today

Posted by Kitara Julian On 10:31 AM

The previous post triggered another memory cell or two. In 1975 not long after Nixon was impeached (while Gerald Ford was President), America’s relations with countries such as North Korea were hardly cordial. [We were into the first three days of another four-month circumnavigation of the world aboard an ocean liner which had mostly US passengers. News came of the Patty Hearst kidnapping. Turned out one of the passengers was her aunt, who promptly left the ship at the next port.]
There was friction amongst the passengers, a dividing line between the Republicans and the Democrats. In the restaurant some people had placed cut-out donkeys and elephants near their dining station, letting people know what ‘territory’ they were in. The European passengers and a Thai family (who were in my art class) did not know what to make of it all. Neither did the Norwegian officers and staff, nor us.
Remember Gulliver’s Travels? Gulliver becomes peacemaker between two Liliput realms. There was to be a wedding, and one King wanted the song “Faithful” to be sung at his daughter’s marriage, while the other King insisted his son’s ceremony feature the song “Forever”. Faithful!” “Forever!”, they shouted repeatedly. “It’s war!!!” Then Gulliver picks them up in each hand, and says, “What is all the fuss about? Why don’t you just combine the two, and sing together, “Faithful, forever”? They smiled and embraced each other. That was the solution for making peace. We need another Gulliver today.
Anyway to go back to my story aboard the ship. Off the coast of Brazil heading north, an SOS call came from a freighter 600 miles away and off our course. The law of the sea requires any vessel to respond. The captain changed direction, and many hours later we reached the ship in a high sea and swell. They lowered the patient from the cargo ship onto a tender, then after a few attempts managed to come alongside and hoist him up to our vessel. It was quite a procedure, like a cable car.
We learned the crew member had appendicitis. The ship’s doctor was very capable but one of the passengers who was a surgeon performed the emergency operation. The surgery was successful. Several passengers had ‘adopted’ the patient and were proud our ship had saved his life. He became the ‘darling’ with passengers pampering him with little gifts. Until, some people discovered it was a North Korean ship. (The captain was very smart, not to have mentioned this earlier.) Then several passengers grumbled, ‘Why should we have bothered?’
What can one say? A week later, the now-healthy patient disembarked in the West Indies, and thanked us all. Meanwhile the elephant and donkey factions continued to bicker. We can always benefit from a Gulliver. Jonathan Swift was a wise man, he knew human nature. Signing off for now, Henri

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