There is a person named Billy who lives in a world where the most common cure for a headache is hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. But Billy doesn’t want to do that. Billy thinks that hitting himself in the head with a hammer will actually make his headaches worse, but when he says this, everyone laughs at him and calls him names. So Billy keeps quiet about his beliefs. He even sometimes lies and tells people that he does hit himself in the head with a hammer, because he is afraid they might force it on him.
As Billy grows up, he finds life easy. He watches as all the other kids grow up to have splitting headaches almost daily. The more they hit their heads with hammers, the more they are plagued with headaches. But Billy feels great! Every once in a while he speaks up and says, “Just stop hitting yourselves with hammers and you will feel better!” But every time Billy says this, people get nasty. They call him an ignorant, offensive moron and tell him to shut up. They say “you can’t possibly understand what it’s like to suffer from headaches. You have no right to judge us!” They all insist his lack of headaches is just privilege and luck.
So Billy usually keeps quiet. He slacks off at his job but gets promoted anyway because he’s the only one who is not constantly calling in sick with headaches. Billy dances through life, playing and celebrating with few worries. He leads a fantastic life full of adventure and wonder. Billy would not trade his headache-free life for anything in the world.
But deep in Billy’s soul, there is a darkness. He feels profound guilt as he watches people repeatedly hurting themselves and struggling with the consequences. He has life’s cheat code if only they would listen to him. But the hammer culture and the hate that goes with it is so pervasive and powerful that Billy feels there’s nothing he can do. He feels helpless. He wants so desperately to help the people around him but has no idea how.
Why won’t they listen to him?
What do you think Billy should do in his situation? What should the people around him do?
Do you think you might know someone like Billy? If so, what questions would you ask him?
Okay, so this is an allegory for our current world and the massive emotional divide between people who find life beautiful and easy and the people who find it scary and difficult. The hammer represents a multitude of different human behaviors that we all blindly engage in despite their counter-productive nature.
This is how I feel, living on Earth in our current society. I have no right to complain. Life is easy for me but at the same time, I’m torn. I could just live selfishly and let everything fall magically into place and ignore everyone else’s problems, or I could speak up, attempt to help people, and risk stepping in front of the cancel-culture firing squad.