"Humanity is a virtue linked with basic ethics of altruism derived from the human condition. It also symbolises human love and compassion towards each other. Humanity differs from mere justice in that there is a level of altruism towards individuals included in humanity, more so than the fairness found in justice. That is, humanity, and the acts of love, altruism, and social intelligence are typically individual strengths while fairness is generally expanded to all. Humanity can be classed as one of six virtues that are consistent across all cultures." (Wikipedia)
In the old fishing harbour of Donostia - San Sebastián stands this monument, dedicated to José María Zubía, a sailor and a fisherman born in Zumaia (another fishing harbour nearby), also known as AITA MARI (Father Mari, in Basque), and a local hero.
It was dedicated to him after his tragical death, when he was trying to rescue the victims of a shipwreck, during one of those violent storms that hit so frequently the Bay of Biscay in the winter. He had already rescued some other people in the past, which had deserved him honours, but this time he was, ironically enough and before the eyes of the people who followed what was happening from the shore, the only victim. His body was never found, and he became a legend and a hero.
A first and more simple monument than the one you can see on this picture was moved away to his birthplace, Zumaia, where it stands to this day, to be replaced by the newer and bigger one that was to be erected in San Sebastián. Under the bust in Zumaia these moving verses can be read (in Basque):
MARI AITA MARI!
AMAIKA BIZI OSATU ZUK ITXASOARI!
BERE AMORRUETAN ZERORI ORDAÑA.
MARI! GURE MARI!
Which could be translated as:
"Mari, Father Mari!
Many lives you stole the sea!
And the sea in its rage, took you away instead.
Mari! Our Mari!
And the inscription at the base of the monument in Donostia says:
URIKALDUAK SALBATU NAYAZ EMAN ZENDUBEN BIZIYA,
TA GAUR DAUKAZU, GOITALCHATUAZ OBIZ ITSASO AUNDIYA
¡LO EGIN ZAZU BAGA ZONUAZ... O GIZON MAITAGARRIYA
ONRATURIKAN ZURE GLORIYAZ DONOSTI TA KANTAURIYA
To save some castaways you gave your life
And now, honoured by all, the sea is your grave
Sleep lulled by the sound of the surf... you beloved man
Donostia and the Cantabrian sea are honoured by your glory
(The original Basque verses are so moving and beautiful, I don't feel the translation is fine: blame the translator... - it's me!).
The bust was executed by Jacinto Matheu y Foster, and the verses were written by Antonio Arzak (The A.A. ant the end of the poem).
The humanitarian rescue ship AITA MARI, operated bi the NGO Salvamento Maritimo Humanitario which tries to rescue migrants across the Mediterranean Sea, took its name in honour to José María Zubía, aka AITA MARI: Humanity, at its best.