As I finished the book, and looked at the scholarly notes in the end pages, I was taken by the feeling that the criticism I had heard of his work was misplaced. Reading Gladwell is not a search for answers, and he makes the point clearly here, that absolute responses to situations can be detrimental. Rather, it is the expanding of awareness, the taking of a step beyond the easy and the usual, and the consideration of another viewpoint. The lessons we learn in life come from what we experience more often than what we are told. Gladwell shares his experience, and leaves it to you to come to your own conclusions.
Part of what concerns me in the modern world I live in, is the ever growing atmosphere of confrontation. It is constantly expressed, I see it every day, in the news, in the media, in politics, and in the daily life at the library, as people are not accepting of what happens to them, they are challenging it, sometimes to the point of absurdity. Or, so it seems, from my point of view.
Being in public service, I remind myself every day, that no matter how boring or commonplace I find a question, for the person asking the question it is everything but common. Capable people forget sometimes the great courage it takes to ask a question and risk being seen as ignorant or uninformed. It sometimes seems to me that rampant use of the internet is to stave off that feeling of being outside of not knowing. But people ask me things all the time that I know as a matter of being, but they have only recently come upon the need for. Our experiences shape us so differently, and being the selfish beings that we are, I feel we sometimes forget how to empathize with another, to see the world through other eyes.
The other section of the book that gave me greater thought was on the legitimacy of the expression of power. How time and again, that the ones who thought that the holding of power made the use of it automatically all right in any extreme, were proven that there were limits on the use of power, and once those limits had been exceeded, legitimacy was lost.
When there is a question of legitimacy, then there is an unsettledness to life, when allegiances are questioned, motives suspected, and assumptions are examined closely. The more I think on it, the more I realize how much we question the worth of the things we do, but how much more we question the worth of what others do, and their right to do it. Anyone who has complained about a reality TV show I think is guilty of this. We judge, and by judging, settle into camps of thought. In my lifetime, I have felt the the myriad of camps where the tents were small devolving into fewer, larger tents, where it seems there are more people to keep you company, but less diversity in what there is to talk about.