Throughout the centuries, the biblical story of David and Goliath has produced a consistent theme that has become a part of our culture. Though the storys symbolism has broad connotations, it is most often used to demonstrate that right can conquer might.
All sorts of worthy philosophies have sprung from the concept. The little guy can lick the big guy if he is clever and has right on his side; brains can win over brawn; good triumphs over evil; and people love the underdog, to mention a few.
However, there are other, more subtle, characterizations rooted in the David and Goliath story. For example, because Goliath was a giant, big is often associated with evil and since David was small by comparison, his size takes on the role of virtue.
Such presumptions have found their ultimate expression in modern customs and laws. Some of the more visible manifestations of this in the world of business include antitrust statutes, workers compensation laws, regulated monopolies and laws assuring equal opportunities for all.
As helpful as this heritage of “right beats might” may be in most cases, there are timesespecially when carried to extremeswhen it can cause serious dislocations in our society. For example, the outrageous and many times unjustified jury awards in personal injury cases are clearly a replay of David slaying the Goliath insurance company. Few people realize that in most such cases, “Goliath” is also representing tens of thousands of “little folks” who, because of excessive awards, will now have to pay higher premiums. At such times, being Goliath can be a very tough business, particularly when we know that “David” is stealing the sheep.
The medical care delivery system in our country, as well as manufacturing and commercial sectors of our economy, carry a cost burden not found anywhere else in the world. I refer, of course, to litigation that purports to resemble David fighting the giant (and evil) corporations that either provide goods and services or insure against their liability claims. It is a great testimony to our system that it can still deliver quality health care even though hobbled by the threat of crippling lawsuits.