Updated: Oct 31, 2019
The Germans called it Die Glückliche Zeit: the happy time. It lasted from the summer of 1940 until the spring of 1941. What were they so happy about? The Nazis were happy about the turkey shoot in the North Atlantic where their U-boats (unterseeboot or undersea boat) sank 282 Allied ships. Their subs destroyed 1,489,795 tons of merchant shipping—and killed thousands of Allied sailors in the process.
For those unfamiliar with the term turkey shoot, it derives from the time of James Fennimore Cooper. Cooper, writing in the early 1800’s, described a contest where live turkeys were tied in a pen, and shooters took aim from about 30 yards. If the shooter killed the bird, then the dispatched animal was awarded as a prize.
By today’s sensibilities, the practice is unacceptable. Modern turkey shoots are conducted with paper targets and frozen turkeys. Thank goodness. While I wholeheartedly reject inhumane methods of animal slaughter, human slaughter is more egregious to me. Not to elevate one area of social concern over another, but it seems odd that we might be more disturbed, for example, over unfed horses than we are over unfed children!
The turkey shoot phrase evolved to mean any one-sided military engagement. For instance: the Highway of Death in the Gulf War in 1991. In that engagement, some 1700 Iraqi vehicles clogged Highway 80 as they fled Kuwait. Coalition forces decimated the fleeing convoy. For those on the ground, it was a hellish nightmare—back home, we cheered.
Just like the Germans.
World War II era German U-boats were constructed with a v-shaped (ship-like) hull, as opposed to the modern cylindrical shape of submarines. This design reflected the state of technology at the time. Their diesel engines couldn’t operate while submerged, so the vessels operated on battery power. U-boats spent most of their time on the surface, submerging only when necessary. Modern subs, on the other hand, spend most of their time underwater.
German strategy aimed to starve Great Britain. As an island nation, the country relied on maritime trade for survival. In other words, the nation needed one million tons of supplies per day—every day—to meet the needs of the population. German tactics in support of their starvation strategy included operating U-boats in groups—what the Allies called Wolfpacks.
The Wolfpacks were very successful. One of the most highly decorated men in the German military was Gunther Prien. He was a U-boat Commander credited with sinking 30 Allied ships. Prien lived and died by the sword, and he perished at sea on March 7, 1941. Gunther was 33 years old.
The Allies turned the tide in the North Atlantic by exploiting the one great vulnerability of U-boats. American and British military planners knew that engaging the German subs in the open sea was a losing proposition. Instead, they took the fight to the Bay of Biscay along the northern coast of Spain and France. That’s where the U-boats returned to refit and resupply. Since the vessels spent most of their time on the surface, American and British combatants used airpower to locate and destroy the returning subs. From July to October of 1943, 26 U-boats were sunk by Allied forces.
All the above points to a profound truth related to underliving. Many people watch their hard work sink to the ocean floor because of subconscious mental constructs that torpedo their dreams. They’re fruitless. They're helpless as life’s locusts devour their crop.
Thinking drives behavior—and “stinking thinking” creates a foul atmosphere. After a while, some people get used to the smell and plod along. They never grasp that the stench, locusts, and torpedoes are the products of their own personal collage of biases and blind spots!
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Authentic men and women are capable of amazing things! What if, instead of creating war machines, we used those resources to create massive organizations to respond to tornados, hurricanes, droughts, tsunamis, and earthquakes? Instead of billions spent on stealth bombers, what if we invented massive machines to create fresh water from the atmosphere or the oceans? What if we attacked poverty and disease and ignorance and addiction with the same zeal with which we attack enemy combatants?
I’m aware of current geo-political realities, and it doesn’t look like world militaries will stand down anytime soon. And as long we face legitimate threats, I want the best military we can sustain. But another captain who died at the age of 33 taught me something that I'm trying to take seriously.
He taught me to love my enemies, to bless instead of curse, and to pray for those who despitefully use me.
It doesn’t come naturally, but I’m working at it—and I’ve learned some things about positive transformation along the way. Many of those lessons are captured in a couple of books I’ve written. The Man School ecosystem provides tools for people committed to building a life worth living.
Since life offers opportunites to learn from others and to learn by experience, each has its place. But someone once said that experience isn’t the best teacher when it comes to nuclear catastrophes or communicable diseases. Um, yeah, that makes sense. So, it’s never a bad idea to buy wisdom.
The point of today's blog is that:
Misery is the one great tell-tale vulnerability of evil.
Wherever misery manifests, that’s where evil hides. Authentic men and women take note, change tactics, and eradicate the threat. So, look around. It might be in the next room, or the next house, or town, or country, but the suffering you discover will point the way to where you’re supposed to work.
Your Bay of Biscay awaits.
The primary purpose of this book (Authentic Man School: A Practical Guide for Next-Level Living) is to empower men to know success, both economically and socially. In so doing, a secondary goal is to help change that part of the American system that seems resigned to waste a large percentage of male potential.
Affirmation of the Week: There is something special for me to do today—and every day. I work diligently to discover, develop, and deploy my personal gift-mix as I build a better world for myself and the people I love.