Thursday, January 18, 2007

Want to be a hero? Get yourself and your men killed...What could be easier?

On Jan. 18, 1912, English explorer Robert F. Scott and his expedition reached the South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it. (Scott and his party perished during the return trip.)

Capt. Robert Falcon Scott, like George Custer before him, became a world wide hero for botching an operation and getting himself and those men he was responsible for killed. (Of course he also had a very cool name.) The man who beat him to the South Pole, Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, mounted and led a picture perfect expedition, beating Scott by a month, reaching and returning from the Pole without the loss of a man, dog or, snowshoe. He probably picked up all of his litter and stopped global warming as well. But old Roald was just too good at what he did. Where is the romance in doing things well and preserving the lives of your men? No, better to wing it and die painfully. Better yet, get others killed as well... Now that's romantic and heroic...Now old Roald disappeared and died on a rescue mission at the North Pole years later, giving his popularity a needed boost. Amundsen was a hero, Sir Ernest Shackleton, who was marooned in Antarctica for a year, and after crossing hundreds of miles of dangerous ocean in a small boat, Shackleton returned and saved all of his men. Shackleton was a hero. Men who plan poorly and get the men they are responsible for killed are not heroes, adventurous and brave yes, heroes no.

Sorry Roald, the public won't stand for perfection, you should have pushed some of your men off a cliff or something. Luckily you didn't hurt any of the dogs, the public will cheer you for losing men, but woe is he who gets a dog killed...