THE ROSETO MYSTERY – Part of The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Roseto is a city near Pennsylvania, USA. Stewart Wolf was a physician. Different with other places in the US, he rarely finds anyone from Roseto under the age of sixty-five with heart disease. Heart attacks were an epidemic in the US. They were the leading cause of death in men under the age of sixty-five. It was impossible to be a doctor, common sense said, and not see heart disease. Wolf decided to investigate. With support of his students and colleagues, they gathered the death certificates from residents of town, going back as many years as they could. They analyzed physician’s records, took medical histories and constructed family genealogies. The result is astonishing. In Roseto, virtually none under fifty-five had died of a heart attack or showed any signs of heart disease. For men under sixty-five, the death rate from heart disease in Roseto was roughly half that of the US as a whole. There was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime. The Rosetans didn’t do diet and exercises and has no relation with genetics. Roseto was an outlier.

Roseto - pic source:

Roseto – pic source:

Always met with another dead end, Wolf began to realize was that the secret of Roseto wasn’t diet or exercises, or genes or location. It had to be Roseto itself. As Wolf and his colleague walk around the town, they figured out why. They looked at how the Rosetans visited one another, stopping to chat on the street, say, or cooking for one another in their backyards. They learned about the extended family clans that underlay the town’s social structure. They saw how many homes had three generations living under one roof, and how much respects grandparents commanded. They went to mass at church and saw the unifying and calming effect of it. They counted twenty-two separate civic organizations in a town or just under 2000 people. They picked up on the particular egalitarian ethos of the community, which discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and helped the unsuccessful obscure their failures. The Rosetans had created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world. In the medical world, none was used to thinking about health in terms of community.

By the result, Wolf and his colleague had to convince the medical establishment to think about health and heart attacks in entirely new way. They had to get them to realize that they wouldn’t be able to understand why someone was healthy if all they did was think about an individual personal’s choices or actions in isolation. They had to look beyond the individual. They had to understand the culture he or she was a part of, and who their friends and families were, and what town their families came from. They had to appreciate the idea that the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.

As we can read from this great story, the  Rosetans have healthy life due to what they have done in their daily activities. They are socialising with each other. In my religion, it is called silaturahmi. They always said hello when they meet each other, in my religion-it is a sunnah Rasullullah to say Assalamu’alaikum (peace be onto you). They are sharing their fortune with each other. They put respects with their parents, grandparents, and older relatives. They are going to the holy house and praying regularly. They are showing respect to each other. Those were taught in my religion and other good religions. This is our noble legacy. But recently, how many of us has left this noble legacy? The legacy that brought healthiness into our body and soul.

How many of us who have less manners with our parents, our mother? Do we speak with them in high tone instead of soft tone? Do we use these kinds of words – ahh, cih, etc – when we speak with them? Do we have respect with our senior citizen? Do we used to have negative thoughts (su’udzon) about others instead of positive thoughts (khusnudzon)?  There are still so many negative behaviours which we have done. Great sources about positive behaviours are available everywhere. Pointing to myself, I would like to be a better person every day, and it has to be done! (easy to say, easy to write, uneasy to do).

PS: Most of the words are taken from Outlier by Malcolm Gladwell


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