Break Down the Walls
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When a hedgehog feels stressed or threatened its first impulse is to curl into a ball causing all of its sharp spines to point outward. This is incredibly painful if you happen to touch, or accidentally step on it, as I once did when I was young.
We are very often like the hedgehog. When we feel threatened, stressed, or hurt, we close up. Except that in our case, it causes more pain to us, than it does to others.
When we get hurt we retreat, just like the hedgehog. "Why did I let it happen, how can I prevent it in the future, what can I do to never be taken advantage of again.." Those questions and others storm our minds and the only thing they leave is loneliness.
We start to build walls to defend ourselves. We are determined to never be taken advantage of again. We are determined to never be hurt again. We want to never have to risk humiliation again. We want to hide and disappear.
Those impulses are normal - like the hedgehog, we too, hate being hurt or rejected. That is why so many people live their lives without ever exiting their comfort zones. It’s warm and safe in there - things are familiar; we’d rather take the known, even if it’s hurtful, than risk the pain from the unknown.
Hence, we create this pattern, and hence we are doomed to mediocrity and disappointment.
Building up walls is the way to destroy what brings us together - our belief in others. You got burnt once, and you didn’t like the heat. You back off - you hide. People see you and they take your lead - they too, withdraw. You lose more trust. You withdraw further. Others do too. And the cycle keeps going and going.
Once the first few bricks are stacked, the process is underway.
A world where everyone is building walls - that’s not a world I'd enjoy living in. I'd rather get cheated a few times. I’d rather risk some losses and some humiliation. I’d rather open up and be hurt, than to let go of my faith in others. Being able to smile, be friendly, exchange some advice and a few kind words. That helps me grow as a person and it makes me appreciate life that much more. I value that opportunity more than I value the safety of solitude. What do you value?
It’s much harder to break the wall, than to build it up in the first place.
It starts with the realization that we’re all human. What sets us apart is our capacity to communicate, learn from others, share their experiences, and help each other. We often don't appreciate how special that makes us.
This also gives us certain responsibilities - we alone have the power to influence our world so much. We can collectively doom it through our apathy, or we can make it a better place, not just for us, but for all.
Thus, I operate under the assumptions that people are good and trustworthy. Why? Because anything that has a chance to advance our civilization and improve our world requires our cooperation. No one man can do it alone.
I enthusiastically share my ideas with other. Hopefully, it will help me find others who get just as excited. Even if someone decides to steal them, will they, alone, be able to bring them to live as well as I could, together with those few passionate souls? Even if someone decides to ridicule them, because they don’t like my capacity to dream, will that compare to the rush of finding others willing to dream with me?
Whatever it is that others can steal will be less than what I will lose by sacrificing my faith in them. And whatever it is they can gain, will be less than what they will lose by closing off their mind - by building up those walls?
I am okay with being vulnerable, because I’d rather have someone laugh at me, than miss the chance to connect and grow. I’d rather be derided than risk not learning.
I’d rather live the life of a lion, than that of a hedgehog.
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