Captain Schettino, formerly of the cruise liner Costa Concordia, is likely to go down in history for all the wrong reasons after his ship sank and lives were lost.
I somehow doubt that investigators will find a soggy copy of Rudyard Kipling’s If in his cabin, if they ever raise the wreck.
But as I read articles castigating the captain for his alleged failings, it does make me think a little. If Captain Schettino did let himself and his passengers down badly when they looked to him for leadership, would we do any better?
Can we all look ourselves in the mirror and be sure how we would behave when terrible things happen?
Can you really know how you would react if you stumbled across a street robbery in progress? What if it was you that saw a man with a smoking rucksack on a tube train? Which way would you run?
Of course, with so many of The News’s readership having military connections, there might well be rather more going forward rather than back in this neck of the woods. But the rest of us?
Well, I can only say that I think most would only ever know if confronted with the choice.
For the vast majority, those nightmare scenarios are very unlikely to happen. But collectively I do wonder if we don’t all fall down occasionally in much smaller ways.
Many of us recognise the failure to confront ‘duty’ in ourselves. After all, it’s only human. How often have you walked by that piece of discarded litter that you could have picked up?
What about that 30-mile-an-hour limit that you don’t obey? And when did you pop in to talk to your elderly neighbour, who you know could do with some company?
Of course, none of them are big failures. But who knows how much it could all add up to if we took a little time to do a few extra things the right way?