Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Tripping Point

In his best-selling book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how trends start and spread throughout a culture or society. The theoretical tipping point comes when an inciting event leads a trend to spread widely. However, the opposite must also occur. At some point, these so-called “epidemics” of cultural trends are replaced by something else. I would call it the “Tripping Point.”
I think it occurs when a trend gets too excessive or moves too far from it’s roots. For example, the baggy jeans trend in the late 1990’s may have hit a literal tripping point. It seems to me that when the jeans were made so incredibly massive that you could not see the person’s shoes, that was the beginning of the end. At that point, no only was the trend widespread, it got so excessive that there was only one direction to go for those on the forefront of the trend. Now the normal jean leg width has swung in the other direction.
In statistics, we would call this “regression to the mean.” It is a natural and social phenomenon that tends to reign in excess, creating balance. Humans have a natural tendency to adjust to our surroundings, which involves moving back and forth from eccentricity to normality.
In Matthew 6:11, Jesus quoted a proverb within the Lord’s prayer when he said “Give us our daily bread.” Proverbs 30:8 says something similar, but it seems to have a different meaning than we may have assigned to it when reading it in Matthew. Getting our “daily bread” might be interpreted as depending on God to feed and sustain us. However, the writer of the Proverb took it to another level, praying that God would provide and sustain, but not in poverty or excess.
For some reason, our culture seems to have trouble with embracing the concept of balance. I feel like it is something you rarely hear discussed in Christian circles as well. Instead we move back and forth to extremes, turning around when we meet the tripping point. How different would our lives be if we prayed for God to give us balance?

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