Ever wonder why people today become pirates? It’s a dirty and dangerous business just like it’s been for centuries. The only guarantee is that if you do it long enough, you’ll either wind up caught and serve heavy time in a foreign prison or you’ll be dead.
No doubt men end up in the business for more than one reason. There’s the chance of quick cash much like a bank robber hoping to score it big. Then there’s the destitute person with nowhere to turn. Chasing down a ship carrying goods worth more money than you’ll see in ten lifetimes is more than a little appealing. When you grow up in poverty with no way to feed your family, the lure of piracy becomes irresistible.
Probably most casual observers would attribute the motivation of pirates to plain and simple greed. But a closer look would show this to be only partially true. Illegal fishing off the coast of Somalia has actually helped to nurture piracy there. Rob men of their ability to make a living, and even decent men can be driven to the unthinkable.
In a country where there is little government or one that is more corrupt than the people it serves, desperate men will not hesitate to take extreme measures. That’s why coming to solutions about piracy requires an understanding of individuals and their particular circumstances.
Look at the pirates and privateers of the 17th century Caribbean. Many began their career with the blessings of the king of England. When they were no longer needed, they became problematic. What the hell do you do with a sea of pirates you sanctioned for years to attack your enemies’ ships? For the17th century pirates, unemployment was not an option.
Another factor that drew men to piracy was the independence and freedom it offered. Many had already served on British vessels often as impressed sailors. And, let me tell you, they were not impressed. Whippings from despotic and emotional captains were enough to make the turn the head of the noblest of seamen. Think of Christian Fletcher and his shipmates.
On a pirate ship, democracy thrived long before it caught hold in the hearts of men around the globe. The Golden Age of Piracy was thriving a hundred years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Captains could be voted in and out of office at will. What sane sailor wouldn’t want to join pirates who enjoyed the thrill of independence and freedom when their counterparts on land were little more than subservient underlings in an unbalanced economic and political system.
A lot of ills draw men to the life of piracy today though a person would have to be a fool to believe that greed is not at the top of the list. But quite a few men end up in the pirate business for reasons that reach far beyond avarice. When the nations of the world sit down and figure out how to resolve the situation, they’re no doubt going to have to take a hard look at what it will take to treat the core causes of piracy. The best governments and the smartest maritime leaders know piracy will never be completely rooted out. But they also know, much can be done to stop decent men from turning to piracy in the first place.
How about you? What would you do to curb pirates? How far would you have to be pushed before you became a pirate? They say for every problem there is a solution. What solution do you think has been overlooked?