‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell

The personification of success equals the characterization of the person in our society that has established an unwritten pervasive eugenic rubric of material success in representing where you live. The stories of Rags to Riches are mainly to blame because they are modern-day mythology of heroes and heroines or fairytales to imbue the populace with slim hopes that can also be dangerous, like mass-marketplace placebo anti-depressants. From Hercules to Cinderella, those whose success from their humble origins we love is not self-made as they claim to be in their memoir or interviews but are made of chance and circumstances. This book reveals how these outliers are not outliers but are insiders of the leagues of winners in sociological terms and facts.

The book opens with a remarkable bible passage from the Gospel according to Matthew, dubbed as the “Matthew Effect” thus: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him, that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” It means that success results from accumulated advantage and vice versa. The accumulated advantage is a combination of one’s ability and ambition interacting with the particular circumstances surrounding their rise over difficulties or challenges. Indeed, people who make lots of money must have burnt their midnight lamps to arrive where they are, but they also have people who help them and time to achieve their goals without worrying about other cares of the world. Hence, I don’t like JF Kennedy’s proclamation, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. You can criticize people on welfare as losers lacking motivation and diligence when they need personal structural guidance and constructive public assistance to help them stand on their feet. You can’t just leave those behind the race as being slow or inadequate for the race.

In ancient Greek mythology, the human race was born of mud by Prometheus and imbued with intelligence by Pallas Athena. Prometheus then gave sacred fire stolen from Olympus to make a better life. In the Old Testament, God blessed Abraham with wealth, who also helped his chosen few from those who instigated his wrath. Although modern-day outliers are not prophets or demigods, they certainly have their lucky stars. As Shakespeare agreed, “it’s the stars that govern our conditions.” Even if you disagree, you should not judge people who make less money than you, or no employment, or live in humble housing, thinking their situations result from their faults.

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Stephanie Suh

I write stuff of my interest that does not interest anyone in my blog. No grammarians, no copy editors, no marketers, no cynics are welcome.

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