Negativity: Powered by a majority, changed by one.


The other day I was reminded of a story that most of us are well acquainted with – the story of David and Goliath. ª

Now for those of you, who are not familiar with this particular story, allow me to break it down for you.

At the beginning of the story we are introduced to two armies (the Israelites and the Philistines) that are standing on opposite sides of a valley ready to face each other in battle.

They only mention one king’s name and that is King Saul, the leader of the Israelite army. We don’t know who the king of the Philistine army was but we are introduced to their champion, a soldier named “Goliath”.

From what we are told, we know that he was an enormous man; they use the term “giant”. Therefore ‘the armor he wore was of significant weight and all who saw him were struck with fear’.

It seemed that no man willingly challenged him.

Each day the two armies would meet on opposite sides of the valley but the battle would never actually start. Instead, Goliath would stand in front of the Israelites and call for their most fierce warrior to come and face him in a one on one combat.

The stakes…the winner would take the loosing nation as their slaves.

Day in and day out he would challenge the Israelites but no one mustered up the courage to face him, not even their king who was quite a big man himself. As no one was willing to face Goliath, he started taunting the Israelites and calling them names.

This was what they were faced with every single day.

Could you imagine for a moment what the moral must have been like for those within the Israelite camp? Going to bed every night and thinking about the insults hurled at them, not knowing what the next day held in store for them.

I could only imagine that the majority (if not all of them) must have been gripped with fear and despair, and as each day went by it would have made them more and more negative about their situation.

The talk within the camp was anything but up lifting.

Negativity thrives when a multitude chooses to feed into it.

Pause here for a moment and fast-forward to today’s society.

Look at the world around you and listen. What do you hear the most in your everyday life?

Whether newspapers, radio stations, the news on the television or simply from the conversation you have with your colleagues (of course friends and family too), it seems that most of the talk around us sounds no different from that which was found in the camp of the Israelites.

Much like them, most of us go to bed thinking about the events of the day that have past, gripped by fear and despair, not knowing what tomorrow will bring our way.

If we are not careful and if we don’t guard ourselves, we will fall into that same trap of becoming negative, where every word that comes out of our mouths sounds like that found in the news.

In time we will find ourselves joining what seems to be the majority of people today, a people who seem to focus only on a world falling apart.

Perhaps this is a good moment to reflect on what you might sound like to those around you and to those who are listening to you.

We don’t always ‘think’ we sound negative, but often what we think and what actually comes across are really two different things. Simply ask those around you and you will have your answer.

Heading back to the Israelite camp…

One thought that crossed my mind was what about the minority that was mixed in between the majority.

Surely there was a small percentage within the camp that had a more optimistic viewpoint of the battle that lay before them.

I believe that there must have been a few soldiers who looked at the current situation and remembered past battles won; they believed that this was nothing new. And instead of listening to this giant, they must have tried to convince their fellow soldiers that they can win this battle.

This wasn’t mentioned though, probably because this minority must have been swallowed up by the majority around them.

Not much seems to have change when it comes to life today.

We might not just have that one big ”enemy” standing in front of us who places fear and despair in our lives today; instead we are faced with a multitude of negative facts that has the multitude around us gripped with despair, and all day long we are forced to listen to “how bad life really is”.

What is even sadder is our reaction to the one or two people who try and look at life optimistically. Instead of hearing them out, they are shushed into silence as if to say “stop being so naïve”.

This is how a multitude drowns out the possibility of change today.

And yet, each and every person found in the majority are looking and hoping to find the one individual that could bring the change, to make things better. How ironic!

Change will come from the least expected individual.

Perhaps the reason we don’t embrace any change from the person trying to set a new course around us comes down to the fact that we never expect it to come from the one’s we choose to silence.

Instead of recognizing change, we only see the individual standing before us, whom we know to be full of flaws.

Let us be clear about something: Change will never come from a perfect candidate. Stop waiting for that person and start siding with those who are merely trying to play a small part in making life more pleasant than what it really is.

In our story, we find that change did come from within the Israelite army. But it came from the least expected candidate – a small shepherd boy named David.

I wonder how many of the soldiers thought, when they saw this small boywilling to take on this enormous man, to themselves that they might as well get their affairs in order? That, that day was the day that they would have to take on the nature of a slave, if not something far worse.

Yet as they all watched from a distance (and probably not long after that thought had crossed their mind) they saw an enormous soldier falling. That small shepherd boy took Goliath’s own sword and beheaded that arrogant man.

This is where things become interesting.

Suddenly the entire Israelite camp that was once gripped with fear and despair took up their weapons and chased after a Philistine army who were now on the run.

Did you catch that?

A majority who focused only on the negative, who silenced the minority of optimistic believers, saw change because of the most unlikely candidate (who was even smaller than that of the minority).

We all desire to see and experience a better life, yet we are so easily swallowed up by the vast number of people around us who only speak and look at the world around us in negative light.

We want to see change, yet we end up sounding like everyone else around us, thinking “what is the use of me even trying”.

Let me be clear.

Change never came from the majority; instead it came from an individual who chose not to be affected by the expectations of those around him.

If you want to see a better world around you, start by listeningto what you sound like.

Are you simply going to be part of the majority, or will you be that one individual (probably the most unlike candidate) through whom change will take place?

It’s easy to follow a crowd, but an entirely different story when you have to lead the crowd.



ª References: The Bible, 1 Samuel 17

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