In David & Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell offers a paradigm shift in the discussion of how we usually deal with pain, suffering, disadvantages, obstacles, and discrimination. He frames the story of David and Goliath as one of an underdog facing a giant.
The cool thing about this dynamic is, “being an underdog can change people in ways that we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable.”
If you’ll allow it, this book will massively overhaul and change the way you look at challenges in your life. In short it a manual for underdogs, misfits and all those who are faced with giants way too strong to conquer.
“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”
“If you bomb a city, you leave behind death and destruction. If you take away a mother or a father, you cause suffering and despair. But one time in ten, out of that despair rises an indomitable force.”
“We get good at something by building on the strengths we are naturally given.”
“What is learned out of necessity is inevitably more powerful than the learning that comes easily.”
“A near miss leaves you traumatized. A remote miss makes you think you are invincible.”
“There is no possibility of being pessimistic when people are dependent on you for their only optimism.”
“Gifted children and child prodigies seem most likely to emerge in highly supportive family conditions. In contrast, geniuses have a perverse tendency of growing up in more adverse conditions.”
“We are all of us not merely liable to fear, we are also prone to be afraid of being afraid, and the conquering of fear produces exhilaration.”
“Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.”
“It has been said that most revolutions are not caused by revolutionaries in the first place, but by the stupidity and brutality of governments.”
“When people in authority want the rest of us to behave, it matters – first and foremost – how they behave. This is called the “principle of legitimacy,” and legitimacy is based on three things:
- First of all, the people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice – that if they speak up, they will be heard.
- Second, the law has to be predictable. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same as the rules today.
- And third, the authority has to be fair. It can’t treat one group differently from another.
Therefore, the excessive use of force creates legitimacy problems and force without legitimacy leads to defiance, not submission. When the law is applied in the absence of legitimacy, it does not produce obedience. It produces the opposite. It leads to backlash.
Father, after all is said and done, I pray that our God, the One who “causes wars to end throughout the earth,” will break the bow and snap the spear. I pray that he will raise us up to be instruments of peace, even in the midst of injustice and excessive force. I pray that he will create an atmosphere in which this conversation can take place without violence and chaos. I pray that he will help everyone to take a step back and decide to do the right thing.
Excerpt: Malcolm Gladwell, David And Goliath, (Little Brown & Company, 2013) 208; 222; 273