I sure likes me some good “underdog conquers all” stories. But sometimes an underdog is just an underdog.
David and Goliath, that old biblical classic, is probably the gold standard. But there’s one particular part of that story that doesn’t ring true as a helpful analogy. Sometimes an underdog is just a bug hitting the windshield of power, money and authority.
I’ve observed that a Goliath in real life usually isn’t the obvious bad guy like the giant in that story. Everyone on the Israelite side wanted him dead and so David was a hero for merely fighting him. More often than not, however, true to life Goliaths are well-liked, powerful and charismatic. Sometimes there’s even some generous and positive sides to these Goliaths. The “Davids” who try to fight this kind of Goliath are often seen as desperate and pathetic…and sometimes they never win…Right or wrong, there is often no Hollywood ending for this type of protagonist.
Is there some value or virtue in fighting a “good” Goliath against all odds even if you never live to see the results? What if the Goliath is seemingly angelic to everyone else and only you or a small minority can see the cancerous side? What if there’s more good than bad to the Goliath’s character?
What if, “The blooms that have sprung from the steamingly fecund turd of his (alleged) untruths have grown too glorious to prune?”
Take the current controversy surrounding Lance Armstrong. I’m fairly certain he doped up just like every other cyclist did and just like at least 3 witnesses have claimed. But having done so much good and having achieved such iconic status, Armstrong is the “Goliath” that won’t go down without a lot of “Davids” being destroyed first…if ever. Contemporaries of Armstrong, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, have put their reputations on the line and come out looking like the fecal matter stuck to a bicycle tire. They’re probably telling the truth too, even if their confession and accusations were coerced and even if they were just dumb enough to get caught. Either Armstrong doped up or he didn’t. If he did, then he’s not the athletic hero we all believe him to be – even if he’s used that fame and fortune for good.
Likewise in another example, back when I was teaching ESL to mostly European students, a story broke the international news where a Swiss bank employee, Christoph Meili, had stumbled upon a list of WWII Jewish victim’s assets held by said bank. This ledger was found in the shredding room. When Meili went public with his find he was vilified by the entire Swiss population to the point that for safety sake he had to leave the country. According to my Swiss students at the time, Meili was a loser and a traitor. Without boring you with a play by play of the outcome, let’s just say that that one act of defiance pretty much ruined Meili’s life. The Swiss bankers barely took a hit. And who doesn’t think the Swiss are cool today? They DID knowingly have hidden assets… perhaps not as much as originally suspected but does that matter?
Fighting a losing battle is a little how I feel when I talk about my experience with the LDS Church. It’s also how I imagine the folks who try to remain insiders and make changes from within. All the more power to them, but I see them destroying themselves to fight a Goliath that doesn’t yet acknowledge them or their claims.
Even though I regard my discussions with LDS folks like arguing with a six year old I also recognize that the LDS are far more powerful and influential than I will ever be. For self-preservation sake it seems so much better to just walk away, not look back and carry on with a rich fulfilling life. I honestly don’t understand the self-flagellation of those who stick around and imagine they are making an impact.
Save yourselves! Or, people really need somebody they feel superior to. So stay downtrodden.