It is I, author of this blog, and spokesperson of the incredibly inconsideratly inactive bloggers foundation of Doulos, and I have returned! Yea, verily, verily, etc.
So. It’s been 5 weeks since I last posted, roughly. And it has been quite a busy, time, yes, of course, that’s the way it is around here. And is that an excuse for not blogging? Well, probably not. But I’ll use it as an excuse anyway.
We’re currently sailing between Kuching, Malaysia, where we spent Christmas and New Year, to Cebu, Philippines, where we were 2 years ago.
Every 6 months or so we get a new batch of recruits, who go for 2 weeks of safety training, and that group of people is usually fairly “clannish”, and are known as the “Preship” group of whichever port they did their training. So I’m from the “Sharjah Preship”. Other famous past examples would be the Manila Preship, Banjul Preship, Istanbul Preship, etc, etc.
Anyway, 2 years ago we had the Cebu Preship join us, and they’ll mostly be leaving in the next month or so, and the next group of recruits will also be doing their training in Cebu… This is NOT normal. It’s the first time we’ve had this, ever, to popular knowledge. Normally it’s at least 7 or 8 years between being back in the same place at the same rough time to be able to do this, so every Preship is a different city.
This might seem like a very minor thing, and from a completely outside viewpoint, it is. However, Doulos isn’t just a ship full of people from different places, we also have a very strong Doulos Culture, which has devleopped over the decades as result of our rules, regulations, work habits, and the bizarre lifestyle which we have on board.
“Preship” groups are almost like your family, or clan. Whenever someone gets up to say something in a community meeting, for instance at the end of a port when we get together to share stories of what we (and God) have been up to, most people will introduce themselves with something like “Hi, My name is Daniel, and I’m from Cyprus, and the Sharjah Preship!” or whatever. At this point, everyone else from Sharjah will shout and scream or chant, or whatever.
OK, so the people from Sharjah probably won’t, since there’s only about 5 of us left, and we never managed to get a chant to work properly, but everyone from all the other active preships on board will for their people. So, to have two groups of people from different Preships, with the same name, is a bit weird. It’s like having two football teams with the same name. If they played each other, who would you cheer for?
So. There’s a random piece of Doulos culture for you. Now for some thoughts about it.
We are incredibly clannish, and seem, as humans, as christians, and as Douloi, to have an innate capacity to draw lines between each other, and to divide on the slightest pretext. And partly I object to the amount that the training department push Preship identity during the training. I can also see the side whereby this “Preship ” concept can be used positively to establish a home base and place for people to live and identify themselves in the community.
And identity is such a weird thing. Who are we? The good evangelical in me says something like “My identity is in Christ alone! All other things are slag!” And yeah, yeah. OK, so that is true, of course. But we do all seem to use boxes, either rigid or flexible, to put people and everything into. We constantly talk about getting “out of the box” and “not putting people in boxes”, but is that really practical? People’s individuality MUST trump any box we put them into, and anyone MUST be able to climb out of that box, and we must not dump people into boxes and judge them there and leave them forever, but is it possible to truly not create comparisons and labels?
Some days I get really fed up of the boxes and labels, and try to rebel.
“Hey! Are you the AV guy?”
“Oh. Who is working tonight then?”
“I am. I work here, but I’m not the AV guy. I’m Daniel.”
I don’t know. Enough rambling. It’s time for sleep.