Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Small's BIG. Not Just Beautiful

I have recently started reading Small is Beautiful by E. F. Schumacher. It is a book that champions small appropriate technologies that empower people more. This in effect contrasts the widely held notion that "bigger is better."

We often believe that more is much better. We consider big cars, big houses, big farms, bigger audiences, tracts of land, big corporations and any other BIG thing a better expression of achievement and success.
This is not always the case.

The Small Boy
I remember reading a story about a group of children who were both neighbors and in the same class in school. Despite being of the same age, one of them was significantly smaller than his peers. He was shorter, thinner and had an unusually high voice. All this mostly worked against him, since his friends often taunted and made fun of him.

One day, the children were playing in an old abandoned house. Eventually, they ended up in the basement. The ground floor of the house unfortunately caved in and almost buried them alive.
In a panic, the children started shouting for help, but nobody could hear them since this was deep in a wood.
Hours later, they noticed a small opening through which they could exit the house. The only problem was that the opening was not big enough to squeeze through... for all but one of them.
The smallest among them would, they later realized, fit in albeit with great difficulty.

Once outside, the small-bodied boy ran back to their homes and called for help. In doing so, he saved their lives.

David vs Goliath
The above story illustrates our attitude towards the small and seemingly disadvantaged. We feel that we need to be like others so that we can make it. We look down on the small among us. We often heap undue and undeserved praise on those who exceed us in some way. The long and short of this is that we often sell ourselves short.

We need to realize that small can indeed have a BIG impact. In most cases, this happens more efficiently too. Small often trounces the BIG and mighty. Small can fit in more places. When you are a small target, you are much easier to miss.

After all, David defeated Goliath.


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