Sunday’s Wisdom #298: Hammer and Brick

“I could’ve been them. Riley, I would’ve been them. But I’m not. Because they think a hammer and a brick makes you strong, and as much as I wanted to throw a brick through a window, I know that if I did that, that’s what would make me weak. I’m strong because there’s something inside me that stops me now.”
– Maya Hart, Girl Meets World
Season 3, Episode 7, “Girl Meets True Maya”

In the preceding few episodes, Maya has had to deal with a little identity crisis, as, somewhere along the way, she seems to have inadvertently begun mimicking someone else, instead of being entirely herself. She had to reexamine aspects of herself and her relationships, but she came back to herself. Still, that journey wasn’t complete until she faced her more negative, darker, destructive urges and decided what to do with them. In doing that, she encountered a pair of girls who exemplified such, and then she made a choice.

Part of this moment, her choice, involved a hammer and a brick. The girls wanted to use them to break things, lashing out at the world, hurting others, hurting the hope of the world. But Maya chose differently. She chose not only to refrain from destroying anything, but to protect something dear to her. And even more, where others chose to make the world around them a little uglier, with their graffiti, she chose to use hers to make something beautiful, something hopeful. She had every chance, and even and uncertain intention, not to mention the pressure from others, to do something damaging, to try and demonstrate “strength” through destruction. Instead, she protected, and created, and built something up.

That is a huge thing, and it especially speaks to me now as I see widespread violence and hate. I see mobs rampaging, vandalizing, looting, burning, destroying, and killing, and I ask myself, “Why?”

Every mob is made up of individuals, just as an avalanche is made of snowflakes (or rocks), wildfires are made of sparks, and a tsunami is made of drops of water. But for a mob, each individual within it has to choose to do what they are doing. So why do they make that choice? Despair? Anger? Rage? Perhaps all of those are just the result of not having the control over one’s life that one wants.

In some cases, that can be childish (like a guy who got a useless degree just doesn’t want to flip burgers for a living), or, in others, it can just be because of something painful (like when the life of a loved one is taken by those entrusted with protecting that same life). Heck, in some cases, it can be outright justified (like when the government treads on your rights so often for so long that open rebellion is the only option left). But whatever the details, it boils down to that very human desire: power.

People want power. They want it over others, and they want it over themselves. The one is easier to see, however, and to achieve, while the other is much more difficult to see and achieve. So, people think that breaking things, the ability and the choice to do so, is powerful.

They are wrong.

See, everybody has the urge to destroy something, every once in awhile. We all have that capability, and that desire. It’s as natural as the wind. But what is more powerful, to take that natural force and just let it loose, or to build a windmill and use it to create something new and useful instead?

Sometimes the strongest and most powerful thing one can do is to stop oneself. To hold back and control one’s destructive urges. To master oneself, and build things up instead of tear them down. And to master oneself, one must know oneself, in complete honesty, with no excuses made. Only there, in truth, can hope truly be found, and in truth and hope, there is strength.

Without truth, without hope, without self-control… well, then one is left with only the hammer and the brick.

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