Sunday, February 05, 2006

Swedish-winter fatal "tröghet"

"Reveses de fortuna llamáis a las miserias. Porqué si son reveses de la conducta necia" (words of the Fortune goddess, according to Felix Maria Samaniego, 1741 - 1801)

Swedish winter fatal drowning

The phenomenon "Swedish winter fatal drowning" may be not a societal issue of the epidemiological dimension of other non-natural fatality causes, such as suicides. But it really defies common sense. Only in January 2006 have nine folks died of such ice/water related accidents in Sweden. I we except boat collisions, we have among them a main bulk of people that goes and walk or skate on top de tiny surface of the precarious ice of lakes or oceans!

Some days ago, fourteen persons walking or skating out on the ice in Stockholm went instead kind of engulfed by the sea when the ice just opened under their feet. A huge deployment of rescue forces, helicopters, etc., was mobilised. Some of them could be saved, but not all.

Commenting such fatalities on today’s edition of Dagens Nyheter - the main Swedish newspaper- the chairman of one association of skaters, Heinrich Blauert, is quoted as saying:

“Everything points towards that nobody have done anything wrong, but that several unfortunate circumstances have withdrawn”.

The blaming of unfortunate circumstances - replacing our possible own responsibility in the occurrence of fatal acts - it is as old as the registered written tales in history. The Greek Aesop referred to this topic in one of his great fables, the one on the traveller boy and the Fortune Dame, theme which has been repeated by La Fontaine in France, and also in elegant poem form by Félix María Samaniego, in Spain. Here follows the texts of Aesop’s translated to English, and the one of Samaniego in original Spanish. Drawn your own conclusions.

The Traveler and Fortune
Fables by Aesop

A TRAVELER wearied from a long journey lay down, overcome withfatigue, on the very brink of a deep well. Just as he was aboutto fall into the water, Dame Fortune, it is said, appeared to himand waking him from his slumber thus addressed him: "Good Sir, pray wake up: for if you fall into the well, the blame will bethrown on me, and I shall get an ill name among mortals; for I find that men are sure to impute their calamities to me, however much by their own folly they have really brought them onthemselves."

El muchacho y la Fortuna. By Samaniego.

A la orilla de un pozo, sobre la fresca yerba, un incauto Mancebo dormía a pierna suelta. Gritóle la Fortuna: «Insensato, despierta; ¿no ves que ahogarte puedes, a poco que te muevas? Por ti y otros canallas a veces me motejan, los unos de inconstante, y los otros de adversa. Reveses de Fortuna llamáis a las miserias; ¿por qué, si son reveses de la conducta necia?»

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