Underdog and Conqueror

by 26Health Staff

Are you an underdog?

Are you a conqueror?

Or both?

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book all about the role of the underdog called David and Goliath. In the book, he examines what happens when ordinary people challenge influential opponents, including mighty warriors, armies, misfortune, oppression, and disability. Through many stories, Gladwell presents the idea that much of what we believe to be valuable during these great battles is insignificant because “the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty.”

Gladwell illustrates this by emphasizing the role David plays in the story of David and Goliath.

Picture this:

Standing 9 feet 9 inches, Goliath must have suffered from gigantism. He was a Philistine, an enemy of the Hebrews, and wore a bronze helmet on his head and a coat of scale armor weighing 125 pounds. Then there was his javelin and spear adding to the weight. Fabulous accessories aside, this guy was also menacing.

And slightly overconfident.

“Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us,” he hollered at the Hebrews.

Enter David, a young shepherd bringing food and supplies to his older brothers who were poised for war with the Philistines. He was in the camp when Goliath bellowed his threats for the fortieth day in a row.

David was up for the challenge.

He ran toward Goliath with confidence, shouting, “This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals.” Pulling a stone from his satchel, he then used his masterful slingshot skills to sink a rock into Goliath’s forehead, killing him.

While David was no match for Goliath in traditional hand-to-hand combat, he was able to succeed because he knew when to employ the talents and skills he had learned guarding his sheep.

Side-note: David’s oldest brother was very jealous.

Another side-note: David eventually became king of the Hebrews.

Gladwell sums it up this way:

“Much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of these kinds of lopsided conflicts because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty. And second, that we consistently get these kinds of conflicts wrong. We misread them. We misinterpret them. Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness. And the fact of 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.”

Adversity Makes Us Stronger

You may be facing personal demons. You may be on your recovery journey. The current political climate could be haunting you. Perhaps you have suffered a loss. If you’re grappling with an uncertain future, it is more important than ever that you embrace your natural gifts and strengths and spend time nurturing those skills. We must also remember that among our strengths as a community is the unity we have cultivated.

Here’s what we have: diversity, individual intelligence, creativity, courage, endurance, hope, and determination. As with all minorities, we have been strengthened by decades of strife and are more capable because of it.

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