The worst prisons are those without bars. The illusion of freedom is the meanest cell, as it does not allow you to be aware of the limits of your choices, not realizing that their borders are more and more narrow, and, contrary to what it may seem, it only limits the size and pales the colors of your world. Free thinking, the autonomy of ideas, the openness to accept differences, require effort, boldness and courage, rare commodities on the shelves of hearts and souls.
The world has always looked askew at dissonant voices and attitudes that hamper the management, control and business of those who believe that others are there not to share, but to serve. Who does not adapt is cast aside of the world, as an outsider.
I do not talk about those who mix up courage with violence, those who choose the path of criminality due to ignorance or cowardice. I am talking about the wisest and bravest men in History, those who would make generals sleepless without a single slap or even a sharper word. Jesus was the best example, but there are other, more modern ones, such as Martin Luther King. Mahatma Gandhi brought the mighty British Empire to its knees, with, as weapons, the wisdom of thinking differently, the boldness of disobedience, and the love of walking through the paths of non-violence. He captivated crowds because he touched their hearts and minds. Their souls became colorful.
Socialization creates a false feeling that in order to be accepted, one must belong to a certain group. In addition to being convenient, according to this idea you must fit established group models with defined limits. There are a number of established groups. You select one and kind of sign a boilerplate contract, tacitly and unconsciously, like you do for telecom or cable TV, accepting the concepts and preconceptions, formatted and canned ideas that define right and wrong, what is allowed and what is forbidden. You dress like them, you use the same lingo, you go to the same places. You even think you are happy and that you found your place. A process of uniformity, homogenization and, worse, pasteurization. You give up the best in you to be fully accepted in the group, and you are allegedly happy. But you gave up on you. Does Faust ring a bell? Well, keeping things in perspective, this is it. You gave up your free thinking in exchange for acceptance and pseudo-happiness. The administration thanks you for that.
Free men think globally, they are citizens of the planet; they are sympathetic but they know each one is unique. There is no one like you. There is beauty in each one of us, each one in their own way, like the different pieces that make up a wonderful mosaic.
The novelties of everyday make you forget what in fact is new. The actual novelty is what is really different, capable of making structural, and not only apparent changes.
History has shown that it was those who believed everything can be different and better took the heat and transformed the world, as they were the living example of change. They used their own lives as the raw material of a major art work. And the building blocks of the status quo collapsed, causing the world to move forward. These people made a difference because they dared to think differently. They became heroes for the simple fact that they did not accept a supporting role, the imposed limits, the ties that prevent them from taking flight. Sometimes we are like the caterpillar that is awe of the beauty and the flight of the butterfly, without knowing that we too have wings.
Isn’t it about time to review all your concepts and ideas? To become the protagonist of your life? You have this power. You have to shake up your way of thinking, and carefully assess what is originally yours and what has been imposed upon you without you realizing. In particular, consider what makes you act automatically, and think that it actually makes sense. If, from the bottom of your heart, you do agree with these ideas or if you just follow them by sheer convenience or fear of social rejection.
A good way to assess things is to check if your way of thinking and acting brings pain and suffering to others. If it does, it is about time to change. To sow joy wherever you go is a clever way of nourishing it within ourselves.
During this process, you will know yourself better and, regardless of the flowers and thorns that are present on each and every path, this is wonderful. After all, you are your own best company. Don’t think it is odd if people talk about a strange glow in your eyes. This is bright light!
Be the hero of your own revolution, of the transformation of your soul. The only way you can change the world is by changing yourself.
Translated from the Portuguese by Carlos André Oighenstein.