Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rethink the Underdog

We appear to be programmed to see qualities as either advantageous or disadvantageous. Take the simplistic: There is the strong, and whatever is not strong is weak. 
Malcolm Gladwell has a new(ish) book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. I haven't read it, but there is enough media coverage and book reviews to flesh out Gladwell's point. (His interview on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper was quite fascinating; Janet Maslin reviewed the book in the NY Times.)

He takes the basic underdog story of Dovid and Galyas, big bad giant versus the scrawny shepherd boy, but expands the perspective. 
So he analyzes the David-Goliath bout, comparing the effects of slingshots to those of sword and spear. He lauds David’s little-guy maneuverability. And he suggests that Goliath, like scientifically studied giants, might have had acromegaly, a growth disorder that would have meant a pituitary tumor, which could have created vision problems, which might explain why Goliath had an attendant to lead him. Maybe that led him to misjudge David’s power. Maybe the Israelites watched from a distorting vantage point that made Goliath look excessively big, David excessively puny. Do we see the relevance of these thoughts to our daily lives?
Perhaps the true miracle of the biblical showdown was that Dovid did not place limitations on himself once seeing Galyas in all his towering terror. 

What we forget is that if we are tripped up by a lack of strength in a certain area, those who are determined to succeed will find ways to supplement their weaknesses. Gladwell mentions in the video that a large number of highly successful businessmen have a learning disability. Because Gary Cohen was dyslexic, he developed rockin' listening abilities, a talent that, due to its rarity, put him ahead of the game.

As a shepherd boy, Dovid would have had had to become pretty deadly with his slingshot in order to protect his flock from slavering predators; as Gladwell said in the video, the stone was traveling at such a speed to be tantamount to a bullet. While he wasn't a giant, that boy had mad skills. 

We hold ourselves back when we internalize the propaganda and think there is only one way of doing things. Some of us refuse to advance because we insist that we are at a disadvantage, and simply leave it at that. 

Dovid didn't. 


Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Interesting enough the front part of the skulls of people with acromegaly is unexpectedly weak. That means that David HaMelech's stone wouldn't just have struck Golyas' head hard, it would have gone right through into his brain thus ensuring both the giant's death and preventing his subsequent zombification.

Princess Lea said...

Ooh, that is so cool! Meaning the stone probably made his head explode - brains everywhere!

But his head was cut off. In zombie terms, does that mean he can't reanimate, or does he just pick up the head and stick it back on?