Another wonder of technology was unveiled recently when marine archaeologists used undersea drones to locate and record the wreck of Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance. Video footage shows a surprisingly well-preserved ship, its name still intact and clearly visible.
Digging up historical artifacts is always fascinating, particularly when those artifacts are tied to a thrilling event like Shackleton’s shipwreck and subsequent harrowing trek across miles of frozen Antartica. But this discovery turns up more than just artifacts. It also brings reminders of the men involved with the event—a type of man that is quickly becoming extinct in our modern culture.
Following the discovery of the ship, I saw the clipping below, posted on social media. I was familiar with the little want ad that Shackleton had run when looking for comrades to accompany him on his expedition, but I looked at it more closely this time, pondering what a foreign concept each of these requirements is today, not only for men but for women also.
Think about how today’s young people would respond to this ad. The Q&A would probably shake out like this:
Hazardous journey? “No thanks,” many would say. “My apartment is pretty cozy, especially since I can work from home in my pajamas at a cushy job that only requires staring at a computer screen all day.”
Small wages? “I’d like a big salary, thank you! Something in the six-figures ballpark would work” (which, believe it or not, is what some students think the average American makes each year).
Bitter cold? “Meh … I prefer to do the beach circuit on my spring break, so … no.”
Complete darkness? “Can’t skip that Vitamin D! I need it to fight COVID after all. Besides, I get depressed enough in the winter with the shorter days—imagine what my depression levels would be if I had even more winter!”
Constant danger? “I mean, really? I hung out in my apartment for months in fear of getting COVID, and now when I do go out, I still wear my mask—just to make sure I don’t get that deadly virus.”
Safe return doubtful? “Whaaa? You mean there’s a chance I won’t live? Or I may come back maimed? No thanks! I’ll wait until artificial intelligence has figured out how to make us live forever before I take a risk like that!”
Honor and recognition? “Sure! I like that! In fact, I like honor and recognition so much that I have a room full of participation trophies—wouldn’t hurt to add a few more.”
This is all tongue-in-cheek, of course, but sadly, such cheekiness isn’t all that far off from reality.
Shackleton’s ship was named Endurance, which, according to Webster’s dictionary, is “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity” and especially “the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.” A good many of us have become soft in this decadent culture of ours. We are unwilling to take even the risks that life naturally brings—in marriage, in family, in standing for truth—let alone the kind that Shackleton sought; and when difficulties do come, we take the easy way out in our jobs, in our families, in our friendships, and in our communities.
And that’s probably why many of us are also unhappy.
The good news is that times are changing, and the soft lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to, likely won’t be around much longer. How can that be good, you ask? Simple. Those hardships will force us into being more like the courageous, strong, and determined men that weathered the storm with Ernest Shackleton—and like those that crossed the ocean, fought a war for independence, and settled the West in the generations before the men of Endurance.
Men like that are still wanted.