Well, I hate to admit it, and don’t tell my wife, but I ordered another book. Malcolm Gladwell has written another book, that will be published on Tuesday, titled David and Goliath. As I read the description of it this morning I was compelled to purchase it. It was the description of the book and a Peggy Noonan editorial that motivated me to buy another book.
Noonan wrote about how the world misses the old America, and how Obama has lost prestige throughout the world. I know Noonan is writing for a fairly conservative newspaper, and has obviously skewed her reporting in that direction; but the lessons in this arena, along with the historical lessons from the David and Goliath event, are poignant.
Apparently Noonan has had several conversations with diplomats from various parts of the world who are nostalgic concerning the American leadership of the past. They miss the “dynamism, excellence, exuberance, and leadership of the nation they had for so many years judged themselves against.” Noonan says that even our rivals are confused over our lack of leadership on the world stage. The discussion she had with some of our allies mentioned the words of overreaching in the past, but under-reaching now.
The second part of her article discusses President Obama’s place on the world stage. Due to the Syria event Obama’s reputation has been stained. The line was cross and he did nothing, but “dodge, deflect, disappear and call it diplomacy.” Noonan asked veteran diplomats how the world reacts when President Obama enters a room, is it like “de Gaulle, when he was there France was there, or when Reagan came into the room, people stood, America just walked into the room?” The diplomats answered that it is not like that when Obama enters the room. The world feels President Obama is dignified, but has lost his edge. During his speech at the UN, other diplomats could be seen looking at their blackberries, notes, etc. They have heard it all before.
However, the most important point, at least in my opinion, is the identification of the social risk associated with our loss of leadership in the world. A prime minister from a smaller country stated that “Wealthy societies with people who think wealth is a given, a birthright – they do not understand that we are in the fight of our lives with countries and nations set on displacing us. Wealth is earned. It is far from being a given.” Where America has truly backslid is in our understanding of wealth. We have become an entitled nation that is no longer the world’s bank, but a debtor nation. We now think our life style is owed to us. We want to sit back because we have built bigger barns, and eat, drink, and be merry. But, the world wants to see us emerge again from our doldrums fired up with entrepreneurism and vision.
This is where Gladwell comes in. “The overarching theme of David and Goliath is that for the strong, the same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness, whereas for the weak, the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty.” We as a country have become strong, and have been strong for many years. We now expect things to go our way; therefore we do not work hard. We expect things to be given to us. We have become Goliath, when in the beginning we were David.
This reinforces my belief that we need to collectively learn how to work again. We need to become entrepreneurs, we need to become people of vision, and we need to emerge from our drunken, drug induced stupor, and become a nation of leaders. This doesn’t mean that we don’t work. Even going to a job every day, getting a paycheck, can be stupefying. We have stopped living. We have stopped being alive and engaged in life. We have stopped fighting the odds.
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the mores of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Ephesian 5:15, 16
And that is my thought for the day!