“…he who shall not work, shall not eat…”
John Smith, 1608
Jamestowne, Virginia, was the first permanent English settlement in the New World in 1607. Most of the early settlers were men of ‘gentry’; gentlemen whose birthright (in the old world) ‘entitled’ them exclusion from such menial labors such as farming, fishing, hunting, ‘smithing, etc. As a result more than half of the 140 or so initial settlers died that first winter, mostly from starvation.
John Smith was elected leader in 1608. He was a soldier, adventurer and realist. He knew that to survive in the New World, Old World traditions had to be discarded and so did away with the cultural mores of entitlement and enacted more egalitarian measures of behavior – everyone was expected to ‘pull their weight’ or be punished– he also allowed those who farmed the land, to keep that land and profit from their labors. This ‘stick and carrot’ approach ensured the survival of the settlement as it eventually grew and prospered.
As harsh as this story sounds, it has been repeated many times through many other explorations, adventures and circumstances where survival is at stake. One lesson we can take away from this, is that you do profit from your own labors, and collectively, we all benefit from our individual pursuits of money, fame and fortune. However, no one of us is entitled to any more than we can provide for ourselves or others.
The World is still a tough place, but there are always opportunities for growth and prosperity and all it takes is a little initiative and a willingness to work outside of our ‘comfort zone’.