Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

A few weeks ago, I put my notice in at work with no set plans, no confirmed next step. I just knew that it was no longer my place. That night, I received affirmation by way of fortune cookie:

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 12.00.07 AM

Some thoughts:

I realize how many of us end up in a trap.

We have been taught to accept the status quo. Everyday, we receive thousands of signals telling us to not challenge things. It is uncomfortable to do so. It might even be dangerous. We’re so used to the box that we’re kept in, we actually believe that the walls protect us. They’re not meant from keeping harm out – they’re meant to keep us in our place.

We name it society, tradition, or culture. It can appear in our community, our laws, our workplaces, our minds.

The first major barrier is the one we have constructed ourselves by implicitly agreeing to this environment. This is the safety of what is known. But these walls are false: it does not require a hammer to smash through – there is always a door.

Walking out the door would change environment. Yet, it is fear of the unknown that keeps us from doing so. We are taught, “it is better to fight a known enemy than an unknown one.” But we often don’t fight at all because we believe safety (the status quo) is good. We forget, “good is the enemy of great.” Remember, evil triumphs when the good do nothing. Who are the walls truly keeping safe? Norms, not you.

Did you know that trees never stop growing? The day a tree stops growing is the day it dies.

Think about the world you truly want: what boxes do you need to step out of so you can grow your way there? Never stop growing.

7 thoughts on “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

  1. Simon, I just watched your TED talk on “Talking with a white supremacist,” and I really honed in on the part of your story where you may have insulted a childhood friend that you did know was a Mormon. The part of the picture that you painted of that period in your life, which piqued my curiosity, was the fact that you collected and familiarized yourself with various religious literature. You said you did this in order to prepare yourself for religious debates, ultimately in the hopes of potentially converting folks, and I wondered what was your religion of origin? Many western religions are built on the cornerstone of conversion of others, though I am unaware of any eastern religions that have a strong ministerial construct, so I was just curious what belief system you started with, and if you were conducting evangelical debate on your own or if perhaps you were you a sort of generalized ministerial christian, or perhaps a Jehovah’s Witness? I ask because I very much related to the story myself as I spent a GREAT deal of time the same way in my own childhood. I even created a lunch time religious debate circle in the school library and we argued our own and other religions with the use of their own holy texts. I have since evolved away from those pursuits to more of a cross communicator, mediator and bridge builder, with the intent to be a unifier, as I see you being. I no longer feel the need to defend or promote any “one true” religion, though I have affection for my upbringing and can not deny the impact it made on my character. It seems so much more imperative for humanity today, to draw parallels and understanding between peoples who do still feel that way, about religion and other deeply held beliefs that separate us. It is such an important thing that you are doing in helping others to ask questions and listen to those with starkly opposing view points at a time when we are more sequestered in our ideology echo chambers than ever. I am sure that you bring a unique perspective with your debate background, but far more so given your debate experience encompasses the topic of religion which is nuanced and both deeply personal and impersonal at the same time. I say religion is personal for obvious reasons, but it is impersonal as well, in the sense that mostly one’s religion is an accident of birth, though every adult comes to point at which they choose to perpetuate the faith of their upbringing, forward in life, though for many, I would still argue it’s less of a choice than a familiar and safe routine if their community is immersive within it. Anyhoo, I am intrigued to learn what religious belief’s you held at the time you were debating others about them with the use of these religious books. If this is too personal a question to answer in this format, feel free to email me at, if you are so inclined, it would be a kindness. I don’t know many who could relate to that kind of activity and I am intensely curious, especially since, from your story, we know you were not a Mormon, one of the most commonly recognized religions for their ministry work. P.S. -I was not a Mormon either, but I owned a Book of Mormon, Quran, Torah and Talmud, Bhavagad Gita, 8+ translations of the Bible as well as the Greek Diaglott, and the Entire New Catholic Encyclopedia, from which I wrote what I thought was a fun, and respectfully written essay on some of the crazier occurrences in Papal history, much to the dismay of my, (unknown to me, to be Catholic), freshman Honors English teacher, until he saw that it was all sourced straight from church’s own religious encyclopedia. Thanks in advance, and well done in your life’s work. – Scarlett (P.S.-raised as a sort of “progressive” Jehovah’s Witness)

    1. Hi, the religion I was pursuing was as you guessed – evangelical Christianity (like many religions, had a high focus on converting others). Thank you for sharing your story as well!

  2. I have just listened to four of your TED talks and would like to invite you to Cape Cod, MA in the summer of 2018 to give a talk on Art and Activism. Thank you for the wisdom and compassion you are boldly and articulately sharing. I look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Jane

  3. Hi Simon, I was incredibly inspired by your decision and I’ve revisited this post a number of times since you’ve written it. I’m curious how things are going now, months later?

    1. Thanks so much! Things are great – better than ever. Within a two months, I always about to travel the world and build my consulting business, paying off years of debt and learning unbelievable things in the process!

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