One question has become a bit of a hobby for me: how did small island nations, Britain and Japan, become big empires? Think of the efficiency it takes to be people on little sea lands who can conquer continents. What was so special about them?
I have spent hours reading the history of the two countries and I cannot find a clear answer. It has become my “white whale.” The closest I have found is both of them adhered to ideas such as constitutionalism (for example, see this Britannica article), uniformity, free enterprise, and trade. There have not been any concise, working theories on how both nation’s became so dominant.
However, I am beginning to like that I cannot find a single explanation. The fun is in the journey – in the research. I have learned about many interesting people. I read about a Japanese Christian convert who became a wealthy businessman believing he should travel between Britain and Japan spreading the gospel. The big names in English political and military histories are fascinating. Who does not like a good samurai story? Maybe the delving is the point, and I should just enjoy the search.
Application for fathers: find a historical fact, figure, or life lesson to share with your kids.