Generous Orthodoxy; Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell explains in his podcast, Generous Orthodoxy, a very effective way to get the change you want. The only thing about this way of receiving change, is that it involves a very meaningful sacrifice that may take a lot of strength to give up…

To go more in depth, one can see a huge key that Gladwell is tying to purpose is, “We need to respect the body we’re trying to heal.” By this he simply means if someone is hoping for change or productive change that may conflict against tradition, you must show respect and make some sort of sacrifice to achieve your ultimate goal.

An example Gladwell used to portray this concept is the story of Chester Wenger. He was a very high up priest in the Mennonite Church. The three things that these people value are Jesus, community and reconcilition. This commuinity holds onto tradition as well and believes that everyone is in it together; no one turns their back on family sort of speak.Gladwell descibes that when Wenger’s son came out and announced his sexuality, the church turned on his son and on Wenger for accepting it. Being homosexual goes against the religion and for a priest to be okay with it was anarchy to everyone else. For these people who valued sticking together through thick and thin, they sure split pretty fast on a man who lived his whole life in that church. In Gladwell’s interview with Wenger said that he suggested to the church that there should be a change and if they were going to split on his family that he would sacrifice his position in the church. Gladwell explains that Wenger was trying to break tradition and open the church up to new ideas and if they were not willing to break the chain, he was willing to respect the body and resign from his position. By giving up his position and identity he demonstrates generous orthodoxy. He is protesting but to get his point acrossed to the church, he sacrifices.

The last example is a story of some students that attend Princeton University. Specifically African American students who were offended by the praise given to one of the most racists presidents: Woodrow Wilson. He was one of the many people of his time, who supported ‘black codes’ after slavery was abolished. In Gladwell’s podcast, he says that groups of African American students did not feel welcome because portraits and placks were hung everywhere honoring rich white elites.Gladwell explains that when a student protested the school and tried to get change, she attacked the school is a very negative way and showed no respect toward the school. She chose this school for some reason so for her to act immpulsive toward the school was perhaps the wrong approach. Her reaction was understandable however but to get change, a different approach should have been taken. According to Gladwell, the method she should have acted on was threatening to not go to school. That would have been a huge risk for her. All the money and time put into the school and to give up was a huge risk. By using that method to protest, she would have exampled loyalty and love for the school. This change would have benefitted the school. By threatening to not go to school she would have displayed love for the school; she would have resembled the love for the school and the desire to make it a better place. Gladwell says that by showing love for the school she is respecting the body: orthodoxy. And also explains that by explaining why the school needed change while also respecting the body she was healing the body: generosity.

The ultimate idea that Gladwell is trying to present is if change must happen, if productive modifications are to be made then you must respect the thing you’re trying to redesign. To be productive and to ultimately make the thing one is trying to change better, one must respect and show honor to the protest.

To receive respect one must show respect.

You can listen to the podcast here.