Large and small animals

It may be due to being catholic, or to the fact that one believes in God in general, in the paradise of heaven, where one wants to go at all costs and where a camel has to fit through the eye of a needle. Where I come from, people have made it a habit of making themselves small. But only to those who are bigger. We are modest and, when in doubt, we hide our light under a bushel. That’s how I learned it from my father.

In balance, you show what you are to those who are smaller – or at the very most, the same size. To your neighbors, for example, or to your employees. You mow the lawn, show up in a suit on Sunday, put up a freshly washed car in front of your door. “What should the neighbors think otherwise?” was the question. “What do you want the neighbors to think?” would have been the right question. And one wanted: just don’t show any weakness!

That is a foolish strategy. Only much, much later and only long after I had given up my faith in God and also no longer even secretly wanted to enter the heavenly kingdom, then I realized: one should keep it exactly the other way around. Make yourself tall in the face of those who are tall. Towards the doctors, the professors, all those who are smarter than you. One should make oneself big towards those from whom one wants to learn. Not that one should puff oneself up, because those who exaggerate look ridiculous and are not taken seriously. One should show oneself as one is. Emphasize your strengths and be strong enough not to want to conceal your weaknesses but instead make them widely visible.

Showing one’s strengths opens the first door: to those who have to decide to whom they want to direct their attention. One must make oneself visible. You have to show that it’s worth paying attention to you.

Showing your weaknesses, on the other hand, opens the second door: you make it possible for those from whom you want to learn to see where they can help most effectively.
Towards those who are smaller, on the other hand, one should be modest. In a way that they are not intimidated and can speak honestly without hesitation.

In this way, one can learn from all of them, from the big animals and from the small ones.