Monday, April 21, 2014

Optimism & Endurance

When reading Endurance by Alfred Lansing, I thought about a post Agathe made a few weeks ago about hope and how mental strength was critical for survival in the Artic. After the Caird left the crewmembers on Elephant Island, I was impressed with their optimism: “On this score, their general feeling, at least outwardly, was confident. But how else might they have felt? Any other attitude would have been the equivalent of admitting that they were doomed. No matter what the odds, a man does not pin his last hope for survival on something and then expect that it will fail.” In Endurance, although optimism didn’t guarantee the crew survival, without it, failure was inevitable. For me, Shackleton’s ability to recognize this early demonstrated his leadership skill. He immediately recognizes Hurley’s disgruntlement and yearning for influence on the expedition, and chooses to include him in meetings to prevent him from spreading discontent to the rest of the crew. In order to preserve team morale, Shackleton assigns tents and carefully picks the crew to travel to South Georgia Island, all while considering each individual’s attitude and their influence on the group’s mindset. In their dismal situation, the crew’s optimism, resiliency, and even jubilant attitude helped to ensure their survival and persevere: “So there was always that niggling little ray of hope which kept them climbing the lookout bluff religiously each day. But it also served to slow the passage of time.”

1 comment:

  1. I am curious as to how important people believe having this "ray of hope" is in situations like this. The will to survive and the hope of continuing onward to something else has been a huge part of human interest pieces on disasters and their survivors. However, I am curious as to how much "hope" these men really had. Or if they just clung to whatever they could in hopes that they would, one day, make it out of the situation alive. I am curious as to what other people think about this notion of "hope" giving someone the will to survive. How long do you think you could keep that "ray of hope" alive? And, as morbid as it may seem, how dreary does it have to be to lose this hope?