Six Frigates

I am just getting started on Ian W. Toll’s “Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy” when low and behold on p. 7 I found this nugget:

“The Royal Navy owed its advantage in gunnery to its commitment to intensive training. The gun crews drilled and drilled endlessly as their officers timed them with stopwatches and corrected their mistakes. Crew was pitted against crew in competition. Wagers were placed. Rewards were offered: double rum rations or light duty assignments. The men strove to improve and took pride in perfecting their skills.”

As I read this, I thought about how far we have come since the dominance of the Royal Navy towards pummeling ineptitude and complacency,

Training? It seems in today’s world if you put a stopwatch to someone’s work, you’re apt to get a call from HR. The only training that seems acceptable is on social issues.

Competition? Why bother. Everyone has participated and worked hard. Everyone’s a winner.

Gambling? You have a problem.

Double rum? Someone definitely has a problem.

Light duty? Slacker.

Improve and perfect skills? Only on one’s own time. Pride precedes the fall.

Our predecessors knew how to train, work, compete, and make life, generally, better for all involved. Today, it’s an onslaught of regulation, risk aversion, and willful negligence.

My hope is that enough people understand that working hard, having ethics, self-regulating, and loving others is actually the true path to freedom. You give that mindset up, it’s not a good ending.