The resourcefulness of people in the United Kingdom was one of the things that made an impression on me during our recent holiday.
A visit to Foxton Locks in Leicestershire where for 200 years, passenger and cargo barges have been raised 75 ft up a hill in a series of 10 locks. An example of resourcefulness from before the days of modern technology.
That resourcefulness has been dramatically demonstrated by Team GB coming second to the USA in the Gold Medal count at the Rio Olympics. Quite an achievement considering that the population is smaller than many other countries. The team’s achievements broke many records. For more details, visit the Wikipedia page.
Our Canadian athletes also did incredibly well considering our small population and huge distances between major cities.
Of course the Russians were not at their full strength either by number of athletes or questionable use of stimulating substances; the Chinese did win more medals in total but one fewer Gold.
I read that after the British team’s good performance at the London Olympics, the British sporting authorities analysed performances and provided resources to the athletes in those disciplines that had the greatest potential for capturing medals. Cycling and rowing figured prominently.
Perhaps other countries use the same criteria for allocating resources, it certainly worked for the British team.
Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) has a land mass about one-quarter the size of Ontario (excluding lakes). It has a population of 60 million which is four and a half times Ontario’s 13 million and almost double Canada’s.
Despite that population density, there are larger farms and more wide open spaces with few buildings than in heavily populated South West Ontario.
Small Cars and Diesel engines
One sign of British resourcefulness is the popularity of small cars and particularly those with diesel engines. This trend has been accelerated by the high cost of fuel (almost double that in Canada), higher vehicle taxes for larger engines and narrow roads with scarce parking spaces.
Recently, I read that the United Kingdom is the world leader in robotics development.
How does a small country with a relatively small population produce a superb Olympic performance? How did it conquer and rule for almost 200 years, the greatest empire the world has known? And despite the setbacks of the two World Wars, how does it remain a world leader in many fields?
Heroes and Champions
One answer may be in this excerpt from the Monday Morning memo published by Roy Williams.
For the first 1000 years after Christ, Greece and Rome were the only nations telling stories of heroes and champions. England was just a dreary little island of rejects, cast-off and losers.
So who inspired tiny, foggy England to rise up and take over the world?
A simple Welsh monk named Geoffrey – hoping to instill in his countrymen a sense of pride – assembled a history of England that gave his people a grand and glorious pedigree. Published in 1136, Geoffrey’s “History of the Kings of Britain,” was a detailed, written account of the deeds of the English people for each of the 17 centuries prior to 689 AD… and not a single word of it was true. Yet in creating heroes like King Arthur, Guinevere, Merlyn and the Knights of the Round Table from the fabric of his imagination, Geoffrey of Monmouth convinced a sad little island of rejects, cast-off and losers to begin seeing themselves as a just and magnificent nation.
An interesting theory, which I am sure has relevance,however I am inclined to believe that a shortage of space and lack of natural resources were equally responsible for the resourcefulness of the British people.
That resourcefulness has its downside too. I was uncomfortable with the hundreds of thousands of security cameras on city streets and major roads. Most equipped with vehicle licence plate recognition technology. I agree that they help to catch criminals but they are a harsh reminder of Big Brother Government knowing exactly where you go, what you are doing, when and who with. Computer controlled cameras on motor ways calculate average speeds, automatically calculate fines and demerit points and send a ticket to your home. The same technology is used to punish drivers parking for longer than permitted in supermarket parking lots and highway service centres.
It’s always good to spend time in a different environment, both for the benefits of taking a holiday as I wrote about in my previous post, and for the mental stimulation of unfamiliar sights, systems and experiences.
Ho do you rate your resourcefulness? Do you stimulate it by travelling to unfamiliar places? Or looking at life from a different perspective?
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