I want to be an Outlier…

I am currently reading a book called Outliers by Malcom Gladwell , and it is so very fascinating. I would highly recommend it to those intrigued with the Why factor in the world around them. I am told that this author has other books that I may like even more.

However, this book is basically about how some people rise above the pack to be amazingly successful: athletically, musically, artistically, technologically, and also in the realm of leadership. At face value, we may assume that they possess an innate ability for the activity in which they excel, however, in most cases, it turns out to be a very different reason than you think.

One story, called the Roseta Mystery, caught my attention. Once there was a small Italian village called Roseta. The people there worked very hard and in most cases had to walk 5 miles down a mountain each day to work and 5 miles back at the end of the day. In 1882 a group of 10 men and one boy from Roseta set sail for America. Upon their arrival, they ventured to a slate quarry in Pennsylvannia. The following year 15 more Rosetans came to America. They sent word back to Italy about the promises of America and soon many others followed that path and ended up in the same little town in Pennsylvannia. They began buying land and building closely spaced stone houses. They built a church. They eventually named their little town, Roseta since almost all of the towns people had come from there. The town came to life, but remained mostly Italian. They probably would have remained unknown to the rest of the world had it not been for a doctor that shared some very interesting information at a medical conference. He had practiced in that area for seventeen years and had never treated anyone from Roseta under the age of 65 for heart disease. At that time, heart attacks were the leading cause of death in men under the age of 65. Another doctor decided to investigate this phenomena. They found that the death rate from all causes was 30-35% lower than expected. There was also no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime. They didn’t have anyone on welfare either. People were simply dying of old age. Roseta was an outlier. Why?? The study looked at genetics, dietary factors (41% of their calories came from fat), and the region where they lived and found no correlating factors. If the secret wasn’t diet or exercise, or genes, or location, it had to be Roseta itself. The researchers discovered that  Rosetans visited one another, stopped to chat, cooked for one another, had generations living together, respected their elders, and attended church. They had created a powerful protective social structure that insulated them from the pressures of the modern world. It kept them healthy. I feel sure that these benefits were more than just physical.

Sometimes we overlook the obvious.  It is so incredibly simple really and yet so difficult to achieve with the world pressing in from all sides. Our time is our most precious commodity, and we wield it haphazardly at times saving most of it for ourselves. We have relegated community to a want instead of a need and yet our very lives may depend on it. This is not new information.  It was told to us over 2,000 years ago by the greatest Teacher of all.

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The fact that this little mystery was discovered and researched and written about is not a coincidence.  It is a message.  It is a little piece of wonder…a Tree Star…and I am greatly inspired to be an Outlier.

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2 Responses to I want to be an Outlier…

  1. Isn’t it interesting how our sense of community began deteriorating with the advent of t.v.? First, people began filling their needs for community with a box full of imaginary, and usually perfect, people, which paradoxically created discontentment with their own less than perfect lives. Second, the relentless advertising has fostered an insidious sense of competition in lieu of community. Keeping up with the Joneses? Forget that; neighbors strive to BEAT the Joneses! There’s a constant feeling of one-upsmanship and social climbing as people pursue ever more, more, more that advertisers tell them they need, striving to fill that hole in their self worth that community once filled, or at least, that’s been true in my experience. Pam, you are wise beyond your years and this is a beautiful article. Thanks for sharing! We need to create some community, gf!


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