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Video Summaries of David and Goliath
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1-Page Summary of David and Goliath
The author begins by recounting the biblical story of David and Goliath. The Philistines send their champion, Goliath, to fight Israelite soldiers in a one-on-one battle. Nobody is willing to face him because he’s so big, but a shepherd boy named David volunteers after King Saul reluctantly agrees. He runs into the valley with only his staff and stones from which he makes projectiles that he throws at Goliath until they strike him in the forehead and kill him. Gladwell argues that this story demonstrates how an underdog can defeat a giant due to his or her ability to think outside the box and act quickly on opportunities presented by circumstance—qualities also possessed by giants who fail because of them.
Gladwell sets out to find the answer to why some underdogs succeed. He examines a basketball team that had no experience and was not particularly talented, but still managed to win because they played an unorthodox style of defense. This strategy caught other teams off guard, and it helped them become champions by using their strengths instead of trying to compensate for their weaknesses. However, once the team stopped playing this new way (because of a biased referee), they lost.
Ranadivé’s team was disadvantaged, but their disadvantages made them better since they had to find ways around the problem. This suggests that people shouldn’t assume that something is an advantage or a disadvantage because it may be different in each situation. For example, small class sizes are often considered positive for students, but there are some teachers who like larger classes because it’s easier to engage all of the students when there aren’t as many children in the room. Therefore, DeBrito worries about enrollment at Shepaug Valley Middle School since smaller classes have become popular and parents want their kids to attend schools with small classrooms. Gladwell illustrates this point by suggesting that you should make classes smaller when they’re already large (around 30 children) instead of making them even smaller if they’re already small (less than 20). The ideal classroom would have a medium amount of students so everyone can get attention from the teacher without being over-crowded. However, prestigious institutions continue to advertise small class sizes while parents still gravitate toward this model despite its potential drawbacks.
Gladwell argues that people should not value the prestige of schools as much, since students often feel discouraged when they go to prestigious schools. For example, Caroline Sacks wanted to be a scientist her entire life and was used to being one of the best students in her class. However, she went to Brown University instead of the University of Maryland because it had more prestige. At Brown, however, she found herself surrounded by extremely competitive classmates who were all very smart like her and forced Sacks out of studying science altogether by sophomore year. The problem with this is that research shows that if you want to become a scientist (or do any other type of work), you’d be better off going to “mediocre” schools where you can shine than at Ivy League schools where everyone else is so good at what they’re doing that many drop out from discouragement.
Sacks faced difficulties at Brown, but there are positive outcomes that can come out of them. Gladwell illustrates this with the story of David Boies who struggled in school because he had dyslexia. This made him develop great listening skills which later helped him become a lawyer and eventually one of the nation’s most sought-after litigators. Dyslexia actually functions as a “desirable difficulty” quite often. Gladwell tells about Gary Cohn whose dyslexia forced him to become acquainted with failure so when it came time for him to secure a job on Wall Street he felt like he had nothing to lose and went all out to get an interview despite having no idea what finance was, and eventually landed the job and moved on from there to become president of Goldman Sachs. In both cases, something else is also at play: personality traits known as disagreeability which help people cast aside their worry about what others might think.
Gladwell begins by illustrating how an individual who has been through a lot of hardship is better equipped to handle more hardship. He uses the example of Dr. Jay Freireich, a doctor who grew up poor and whose father committed suicide when he was young. In spite of this, he managed to graduate from medical school and get his first job at the National Cancer Institute on the cancer ward for children with leukemia—a very depressing place for doctors because most patients don’t survive long after they’re diagnosed. However, Freireich does not let this sink him into depression like many other doctors do; instead, he finds it motivating that he’s already been through worse in life so far and refuses to give up on finding treatments for these kids even though it angers many people in his field since some of them think that using unorthodox methods will hurt their patients rather than help them. Nonetheless, Freireich continues trying different approaches until one finally works: 90% of children are now cured thanks to him.
Malcolm Gladwell discusses the civil rights movement and how Martin Luther King Jr. and others used their underdog status to get ahead. They were able to do this because they were accustomed to being in that position, as well as using clever tricks like Wyatt Walker did when he staged a protest with schoolchildren in Birmingham, Alabama so that Bull Connor would send bloodthirsty dogs after them so that reporters could take pictures of policemen sending dogs at children; this resulted in an image that struck a nerve nationwide about racism and segregation. This is an example of how underdogs can use alternative strategies to use their opponents’ power against them.
Gladwell continues to examine the nature of authority by telling the story of a conflict that took place in Northern Ireland, between Catholics and Protestants. He also discusses how the British military handled it. The British Army entered a small Catholic town called Lower Falls to search for illegal weapons. This incited rage amongst residents who threw stones at soldiers as they retreated after completing their search. Although they could have continued on their way, they turned around because they were ordered to meet resistance with harsh punishment. As a result, there was a bloody conflict which led to an extended curfew during which people weren’t allowed out even to eat. It ended when women from another neighborhood marched into Lower Falls and forced them out since the soldiers didn’t know what else to do in response to nonviolence.
Gladwell argues that Mike Reynolds was correct in thinking that harsh sentences for criminals would reduce crime rates. However, he also thinks the Three Strikes Law did more harm than good. Criminologists are conflicted about whether or not this law worked as intended, but it is clear that overcrowded prisons and a negative effect on the crime rate were both possible consequences of this law.
Gladwell talks about the power of authority. He says that some forms of authority are useless against underdogs who don’t care what happens to them and will stand up for what they believe in. The Nazis couldn’t stop a pastor from helping Jewish people escape persecution because he didn’t care what would happen to him.
Full Summary of David and Goliath
Malcolm Gladwell’s 2013 book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants is an investigation into the relationship between underdogs and giants. He looks at a Biblical story about David overcoming Goliath to see how it relates to other underdog stories in history. Critics say that he didn’t do enough research for this book or support his arguments well enough because some of them don’t stand up to scrutiny.
The book is divided into three parts. The first part deals with the advantages of disadvantages and how that can be used to beat your competition. This section uses examples from Vivek Ranadivé, Teresa DeBrito, and Caroline Sacks.
Vivek Ranadivé had no experience with basketball, but he was able to coach his daughter’s team and get them into the national level of competition. Teresa DeBrito is a school principal whose students appear to be getting worse academically even though class sizes are decreasing, which goes against what we would normally expect. Caroline Sacks chooses an elite Ivy League university for her science degree, but eventually leaves science entirely because she cannot measure up to other students at that institution. She could have excelled at another college or university.
Part 2, “The Theory of Desirable Difficulty,” introduces the idea that there are some weaknesses that force people to improve in a way that others who do not share the apparent weakness cannot access. Gladwell demonstrates this with stories about David Boies (a lawyer), Emil Freireich (a doctor) and Wyatt Walker (one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s chief strategists). He posits that their dyslexia was an advantage because it forced them to focus on memorization skills, persuasion and adaptability—skills sometimes more useful for trial lawyers than attention to detail or legal briefs. Doctors like Emil Freireich overcame his childhood hardships by developing innovative treatments for leukemia patients. And one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s top aides used cunning tricks during protests in order to gain traction for the movement; he turned their weakness in numbers into a need for cunning.
In the third part, “The Limits of Power,” Gladwell discusses how power is not always enough to achieve a desired result. He uses Rosemary Lawlor, Mike Reynolds, Wilma Derksen and André Trocmé as examples for this. In the 1970s, Lawlor witnessed firsthand how mismanagement by the British Army worsened an already difficult situation in Northern Ireland. She also saw that Three Strikes law instituted by Mike Reynolds did not lower crime rates in California after his daughter was murdered. Wilma Derksen forgave her daughter’s murderer instead of seeking justice through retribution or punishment and André Trocmé never made a secret out of hiding Jews from Nazis during World War II France.
Part 1, Introduction: “Goliath”
Gladwell discusses a story from the Bible about David and Goliath. The Israelites were in war with the Philistines, but they couldn’t win because of their champion, Goliath. He was so big that no one wanted to fight him until this boy named David stepped up and volunteered to fight him even though he didn’t think he could win. Gladwell’s project is about how people can overcome giants—powerful opponents who are bigger than them or have more power than them—through determination and creativity.
There are two main lessons. The first is that the struggles people endure can leave them with beautiful and great accomplishments, even if they lose in the end. The second is that although these conflict scenarios seem negative at first, appealing outcomes might occur later on which makes it better to look beyond a situation’s immediate circumstances to see what could happen instead.
Goliath was certain that he would win the battle. He prepared for a warrior like himself, wearing heavy armor and carrying a sword and spear. However, David knew that this would slow him down in the fight. Instead, he used his sling to hit Goliath in the head with one stone and then decapitated him with another. Gladwell states that it’s wrong to interpret this story as a metaphor for an improbable victory because…
Soldiers who used slings in combat were known as projectile fighters. They were able to hit targets from a distance, which was very useful when they had to protect their flocks of sheep or other animals from predators. Goliath faced David the shepherd boy, whose family protected their flock by fighting off predators with slings. It seems like David’s sling would have been more effective than Goliath’s sword and armor against someone without any protection at all.
In this passage, Gladwell explains why the story of David and Goliath is misunderstood. He says that it’s partly because people don’t understand power, as well as what power really is. People think of strength or size when they hear “power,” but there are other types of power that can be more important than physical strength in a situation like this one. For example, the giant may have had a pituitary condition that caused him to move slowly and see poorly—this would have made him seem less powerful even though he was physically strong.
Part 1, Chapter 1: “Vivek Ranadivé”
Gladwell introduces Vivek Ranadivé, who had no experience coaching basketball when he decided to coach his daughter’s team. He committed to two principles: never raising his voice and pressuring the other team for the entire length of the court when they have possession of the ball. His players were inexperienced in playing basketball, but he was able to create a winning strategy by using insights gained from understanding how people make decisions at critical moments.
Gladwell then asks the reader to add up all wars fought in the past 200 years between large and small countries. He provides statistics showing that “just under a third of the time, the weaker country wins”. When a smaller country uses unorthodox tactics like David did, their win rate is even higher: “63.6 percent”, which means they win more often than one might think if this story were true.
T.E. Lawrence is a famous military leader, known for his role in leading the Arab revolt against the Turkish army during World War I. He was able to surprise and attack from unexpected directions by moving quickly through the desert with few supplies. His troops were skilled at finding water, so they rarely needed to carry extra weight of water containers. The Arabs had several advantages over their enemies: they moved quickly through the desert without much equipment; they found ways to get enough water when it wasn’t readily available; and their skill allowed them to defeat an enemy that outnumbered them greatly.
Gladwell explains how Ranadivé used a strategy that he learned from his daughter’s basketball coach. The team was able to pressure the inbounder and prevent them from passing it within five seconds, which allowed them to get possession of the ball. When they were unable to steal the ball, they pressured their opponents during their 10-second window before a penalty was called. This put them close to the basket, making it easier for them to score points.
Gladwell continues with the example of basketball: “In January 1971, Fordham University played a game against the University of Massachusetts. UMass was undefeated for two years and had many skilled players such as Julius Erving, who later became Dr. J in the NBA. Fordham wasn’t as good but they were tough and relentless; they used full court pressure just like Redwood City’s girls’ basketball team would use under Ranadivé”. Gladwell asks why every team doesn’t use this strategy if it is so effective: “All an opposing team has to do to beat Redwood City is press back. The girls are not good enough to handle a taste of their own medicine.”
When an underdog uses David’s strategy, they have a greater chance of winning. Gladwell says that this is because it’s hard and exhausting to use this strategy: “but most of the time, underdogs didn’t fight like David”. One reason why people don’t use David’s strategy is because they aren’t desperate enough. They’re not so bad that they have no other choice but to do things differently.
Other coaches were angry at Redwood City because they realized the girls on their team weren’t learning fundamentals. They should have been focusing more on basic skills, but instead they let the girls play freely and focused more on having fun: “When games are about effort over ability, it becomes unrecognizable. It’s a shocking mixture of broken plays and flailing limbs.”
When the Redwood City girls played at Nationals, they won some games and lost others. They did so well in one of those games that they were able to prove something about Goliath.
Part 1, Chapter 2: “Teresa DeBrito”
Gladwell discusses a school in Connecticut called Shepaug Middle School. It was initially a crowded school, but various factors led to an eventual decrease in class size, which provided a more intimate experience for students and teachers. This is the kind of environment that parents would want their children to be exposed to because smaller classes are often better than larger ones.
A school in Connecticut, Shepaug Valley High School, was once overcrowded. It had a student-to-teacher ratio of 30 to 1. However, the number of students decreased as more people moved away from the area and fewer children were born. The class size dropped to 15 students per teacher. One would expect that teachers could give each student better attention and therefore improve their performance on tests (Hoxby). This assumption is not true after taking into account other factors such as socioeconomic status or race (Hoxby). Hoxby also analyzed similar schools in Connecticut with different levels of class sizes and found no correlation between classroom size and academic performance (Hoxby). A large amount of studies have been conducted since then that show contradictory results: some claim there is a positive relationship between small classes and test scores while others claim there isn’t one at all (Hoxby). Twenty percent have shown inconclusive results; they either show significant improvement or significant decline depending on whether it’s an affluent community or not (Caroline Hoxby ).
Malcolm Gladwell tells a story of how one of the most powerful people in Hollywood got to where he is. He began running a snow-clearing business when he was 10 years old, and then started managing other kids who worked for him. After college, he moved to Hollywood and became successful very quickly. He attributes his success to freedom—he wants more freedom than anyone else so that no one can tell him what to do or what not to do.
The man admits that his wealth will make it easier for him to raise his children. He says that he might not have the same success as his father did in raising him and teaching him important lessons about hard work, independence, and self-worth.
Gladwell states that money does not always make things better. If a parent has to work so much that there is little or no time for the children, this isn’t ideal. When parents don’t have enough time to spend with their kids, it can be hard for them to raise them well. The author also mentions that as income increases, happiness levels remain constant until $75K per year and then they begin to decline. People who earn more than $75K tend to want more money even though they are already happy. A psychologist named James Grubman says that poor people understand why they cannot get what they want but rich parents must say “no” instead of “can’t.” Saying “no” is harder than saying “I can’t.”
Gladwell discusses class size and its effects on students. He mentions a school that has lower than average class sizes, but the principal is worried about it because she doesn’t think it’s helping her students academically. Gladwell goes into detail about why this might be happening and how teachers are probably just working less since they have fewer assignments to grade.
Gladwell asks whether or not a class can be too small. He states that the answer is yes, and quotes teachers on both sides of the issue. Teachers who have taught in smaller classes say that there are more problems with bullying, but others disagree.
Another teacher says that the problem with a small class is discussion. If there aren’t enough students, then it’s difficult to start a conversation or debate. An economist named Jesse Levin says that students learn not just from teachers but also from one another; fewer students means fewer opportunities for learning and interaction.
DeBrito is worried about the future of Shepaug Valley. Her favorite class had 29 students, and she thinks that’s an ideal number for classes. However, not all teachers feel this way. Gladwell turns to a nearby boarding school called Hotchkiss where tuition is almost $50,000 per year. The average class size at Hotchkiss is 12 students, which Hotchkiss’ marketing department describes as its greatest asset. It also focuses on its lakes, hockey rinks, Steinway pianos and golf course: “Hotchkiss has fallen into the trap that wealthy people and wealthy institutions and wealthy countries—all Goliaths—too often fall into: the school assumes that the kinds of things that wealth can buy always translate into real-world advantages.” As we have seen in this chapter they do not
Part 1, Chapter 3: “Caroline Sacks”
150 years ago there was a group of painters in Paris who got together every evening at the Café Guerbois. The group included Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Renoir, and Claude Monet. They were all poor artists who didn’t have much support from society. Their style of painting was not accepted by the Salon because it was different from what people expected to see at art exhibitions.
The group wanted to show their paintings at the Salon, but they had to make art that didn’t mean anything. They debated whether or not they should keep trying to be accepted by the Salon or have their own exhibits: “We strive for excellence and want our work displayed in top-notch places. We rarely question why we’re doing this, as did the Impressionists.”
Gladwell introduces Caroline Sacks, who grew up in the Washington D.C. area and excelled academically as a child. When she was finishing high school, her father helped her tour American universities by visiting Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut; Boston College and other prestigious schools.
Gladwell discusses the choice that Caroline Sacks had to make. She could either go to a selective school or an open-admission one. He compares her decision to the Impressionists’ dilemma of whether they should exhibit at the Salon or not. They decided that it was better to have more exposure and work in a large building than be confined in a small space with limited public access, but there were also negatives such as being overwhelmed by crowds.
In 1873, Pissarro and Monet started a collective group of artists. They called it the Impressionists. The purpose was to have all the artists treated equally. It opened in 1874 with one month showing that received positive feedback from many people. By this time, they were already considered an important movement in art history. Caroline Sacks went to Brown University and chose the Salon for her artwork because she ended up paying a high price by going there instead of another school like MIT or Harvard.
Caroline struggled with chemistry as a freshman. She retook the class in her second semester and her grade still did not improve. Students were so competitive that they didn’t share information, which made it difficult for Caroline to learn anything. No matter how hard she worked, she could not understand organic chemistry at all. Gladwell points out that even though Caroline’s grades would have put her in the 99th percentile among students taking organic chemistry classes overall, she was only comparing herself to other students who took the same course at Brown University.
Samuel Stouffer, a sociologist, found that people often compare themselves to others around them. If they don’t get promoted or something else doesn’t happen for them, they assume that everyone else is also not getting what they want. This can cause stress if the person compares himself only to those in his immediate area and he sees that no one is being promoted.
The “Big Fish-Little Pond Effect” is a term used in education. It states that students from a small school will be more critical of themselves than if they were at an elite university. Gladwell also uses the example of Sacks to support his point about this effect. The student’s dropout rate for STEM programs is 50 percent after their first or second year, according to Gladwell.
Sacks chose to go to Brown University because it was a better school. Gladwell cites a study that says people who attend lower ranked schools are less likely to complete their degrees than those at higher ranked schools. Sacks tells Gladwell that if she had gone to the University of Maryland, she would still be in science.
Part 3, Chapter 7: “Rosemary Lawlor”
Rosemary Lawlor was a new mother in Ireland when she fled with her family to the Catholic neighborhood of Ballymurphy. She lived there until 1970, when things got worse. Gunfights and riots broke out between Catholics and Protestants, who were fighting for control over Northern Ireland. The British Army was summoned to maintain order, but they placed the entire Lower Falls area under curfew while they searched for illegal weapons. Rosemary’s father feared that if he tried to help his neighbors by smuggling food into their houses, the British Army would turn on him and his family.
In the year of chaos in Northern Ireland, two economists wrote a report about how to deal with insurgencies. They concluded that it’s a mathematical problem: “If there are riots in the streets of Belfast, it’s because the costs to rioters of burning houses and smashing windows aren’t high enough.”
Ian Freeland was the British general in charge of Northern Ireland. He was supposed to put down resistance aggressively. The rioters attacked him with stones, and he had to fight back. It took a whole day for it all to die down, but by that point people were already very tense between the Irish and the British. They thought that they would be able to fix things quickly—instead, it turned out that there would be more than thirty years of fighting before anything got better.
Gladwell asks the reader to picture a classroom full of kids running around and making faces at their teacher. Then, he wants you to imagine that this is a kindergarten class with one teacher who reads aloud from a book while the children are acting up. Gladwell states that these children aren’t being disobedient; they’re actually reacting poorly to their teacher’s poor teaching methods. The kids are bored by her reading, which is what she focuses on instead of paying attention to them. He says that authority can also be seen as disobedience because teachers often react badly when students don’t listen or follow directions.
In the next video, a teacher reads homework instructions to a class of children. One boy begins working on his assignment immediately after hearing the instructions. The teacher tells him not to work because it’s “homework”. If he becomes defiant, it is because the teacher made him that way by telling him not to work.
Gladwell introduces three principles of the “principle of legitimacy”: people must feel like they have a voice and will be heard, laws must be consistent and predictable, and authority figures need to exercise their power fairly. He cites an experiment in Brownsville, where these principles are being applied.
In 2003, a police officer named Joanne Jaffe made a list of juvenile delinquents in Brownsville. There were 106 of them and they had been involved in 180 crimes the previous year. Their punishments would be much more severe if they continued to commit crimes, so she told them that she was going to keep an eye on them and make sure that they stayed out of trouble.
In order to prevent juvenile crime, Jaffe set up surveillance operations and cameras in the Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program. She also made sure that her task force was staffed with officers who loved kids and had a history of being able to change them. In addition, she bought Thanksgiving turkeys for all the families and delivered them door-to-door so they could get to know each other better.
Jaffe wanted to meet with the families of J-RIP because she didn’t think that they trusted the police. Most juveniles in J-RIP had a family member who was previously incarcerated, and therefore saw the police as an enemy. She started giving away toys at Christmas time and invited them all to have dinner together. The robberies dropped significantly over three years after this change in community relations. Gladwell believes that if Ian Freeman could have seen Northern Ireland from an Irish perspective, there would be less violence today.
The Northern Irish conflict was often violent and chaotic. The British soldiers were trying to stop the violence, but they weren’t always successful. They sometimes used harsh tactics that made the situation worse. For example, in July of each year, Protestants celebrate their victories over Catholics by holding parades through Catholic neighborhoods. This upsets the Catholics because it reminds them of how much power Protestants have over them. In 1970, Freeland insisted that anyone who threw a bomb would be shot, which angered the IRA and led to an increase in violence throughout Northern Ireland. Rosemary Lawlor’s brother Eamon was killed during this time period as well
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Part 3, Chapter 8: “Wilma Derksen”
In 1992, Kimber Reynolds was shot during a car theft by Joe David. She died the next day in front of a crowded restaurant. Her father, Mike Reynolds vowed to do everything he could to prevent this from happening again.
Fourteen hours after the murder of Polly Klaas, her father went on a radio show to talk about her. For two hours, he took calls from people who knew Polly or who wanted to vent about the broken legal system in California where she was murdered. Afterwards, Mike invited anyone he thought could help reduce crime in California to a barbecue including judges, police officers and lawyers. The group created a proposal that would be known as Three Strikes Law. Someone convicted of three criminal offenses would serve 25 years to life in prison with no exceptions for good behavior. It was passed by the spring of 1994 and over the next 10 years there were more prisons but crime fell drastically
Today, Mike Reynolds is a man who helped save many lives. Although he had to lose his daughter in the process, he did not regret it because of the positive impact that this law has had on California. He became a highly influential figure in California and was able to achieve what he wanted: lowering crime rates. However, Gladwell argues that Three Strikes could have made crime worse by incarcerating offenders for longer periods of time without rehabilitation efforts.
Criminologists (researchers who study crime) asked dozens of armed robbers why they didn’t think about the threat of punishment. The robbers all had a similar answer: they kept their focus on the task at hand and distracted themselves from thinking about getting caught. A law like Three Strikes doesn’t work on criminals who think this way, because it’s illogical to assume that threats can intervene in a brain that operates in such a manner.
The authors of Three Strikes, a book that advocates for criminal justice reform by increasing incarceration time, argues that criminals who are imprisoned never commit another crime. However, Gladwell shows us how the calculations of Three Strikes supporters doesn’t take into account criminal activity after prison by The average crimninal who is imprisoned at age 43 would’ve committed three violent crimes between 43 years old and 48 years old. What they fail to realize is too few crimes occur during this same period for support their argument.
There is a debate about whether or not Three Strikes laws are effective in reducing crime. One side of the argument is that incarcerating criminals can increase crime rates, especially for children whose parents have been incarcerated. The other side argues that if more people were imprisoned, there would be less crime because there would be fewer criminals on the streets to commit crimes. Studies show that when only two percent of a community goes to prison, it actually reduces crime rather than increases it.
California’s crime rates have been dropping for a while. This was true before Three Strikes was passed, as well. Many sociologists and criminologists have studied the effects of Three Strikes, but they still don’t agree on whether it helped or hurt.
Ten years before Kimber Reynolds was murdered, a Winnipeg teenager named Candace Derksen was abducted and killed. When her parents found out about it, they went home where friends and family came to visit them. A stranger with a similar story of his own came to their door and told them that he expected the same thing would happen to them because his life had spiraled out of control after his child’s death. He warned them that they should be prepared for what would happen next.
After their daughter’s funeral, Candace’s parents spoke with the press. When asked how they felt about the person who had murdered their daughter, Cliff said that he wanted to understand why this happened so he could help them feel loved. Wilma implied that she was not ready to forgive yet but hoped to in time. Neither of them talked about getting justice or revenge for what happened.
Malcolm Gladwell discusses whether Wilma Derksen or Mike Reynolds is a greater hero. They both had good intentions and did something courageous, but they had different ideas about power. The Mennonite religion that the Derksens were raised in teaches forgiveness. However, it’s not just a philosophy; it’s also a practical strategy because retribution doesn’t accomplish much.
In 2007, the Derksens received a call from the police, who said they had learned the identity of Candace’s murderer. It had been 20 years. The man’s named was Mark Grant, and he had lived near the Derksens. He had been imprisoned for most of his adult life and would stand trial in 2011, which the Derksens attended. Wilma was conflicted as she watched Grant in court. She suddenly understood that he took pleasure in her daughter’s suffering and asked herself: “Why doesn’t someone just kill him?” Eventually, she managed to forgive him because if she didn’t do so it would have ruined her family. To her fighting back “would have been easier in the beginning but then it would have gotten harder”.
Reynolds used the full power of the state and produced what is today deemed to be a fruitless and expensive social experiment. Wilma forgave Grant to protect her own family and sanity, according to Gladwell.
Part 3, Chapter 9: “André Trocmé”
In 1940, France fell to Germany. The German army allowed the French to set up a government in the city of Vichy. A French general named Henri-Philippe Pétain was installed as a dictator. He immediately began collaborating with the Germans and placed many Jews in internment camps. Most people complied, but those who lived in Le Chambon did not. They were led by André Trocmé, who refused to allow fascist salutes or fly the German flag or salute it because he believed that loving your enemies is one of God’s laws and therefore must be followed no matter what happens.
When Marshal Pétain decreed that all French teachers must sign loyalty oaths, the staff at Le Chambon refused. When he announced that pictures of him must be displayed in schools, they again refused. Jewish refugees began arriving in Le Chambon after it got a reputation for being “hospitable”. In 1942, Pétain sent Georges Lamirand to Le Chambon to set up French versions of Hitler Youth camps. The students gave Lamirand a letter saying that they had heard about the deportation of Jews but were not supporting it and would not give them over.
Gladwell believes that the Nazis did not go to Le Chambon because of their actions in other parts of France. The Huguenots had been persecuted for centuries and never gave up or bowed down to an oppressor. Trocmé’s wife Magda said, “The people in our village knew already what persecutions were.” They sympathized with the plight of the Jews and decided to help them. She says it was a no-brainer when asked about her decision: “There was no decision to make…Do you think we are all brothers or not?”
André Trocmé was arrested and sent to a prison camp for his defiance. He refused to sign an oath of loyalty, so the officials let him go home anyway. Later he would be forced from Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and begin helping Jews escape across the Alps to Switzerland. He never stopped trying to help others: “Trocmé was disagreeable in the same magnificent sense as Jay Freireich and Wyatt Walker”. He had nothing left to lose, so he did not make decisions like typical people do when they are caught. When asked if he was Monsieur Béguet, his pseudonym, he said that he was André Trocmé, Pastor of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon.
Gladwell wonders how a Goliath defeats someone who thinks like Trocmé, whose son committed suicide. He writes that the war ended and Le Chambon didn’t remember what happened to them for a moment because they were so busy helping others. They grew in thickness and became stronger after the war was over.