The Syndrome of … “It’s not like you say … It’s not like that.

It is a tale as old as time … it’s always been like that from time immemorial, people can’t accept what they don’t understand. Everyone perceives … feels things in their own way, according to the way they look at the world and the way they were taught to look at it. The greater their “outlook” on the world and life, the more they understand and accept things. The lesser their outlook on the world and life, the less they understand and accept things. So there is both a personal factor and an environmental factor.

No matter how evident the truth may be, people can’t accept what they don’t understand.

Let’s take an example … Imagine … one fine day I come to see you and I tell you … come, I want to show you something … but I have to blindfold you, ok? You have never seen the place I want to take you … Then, once there, I help you get out of the car and I take you very close to a wall … there’s a huge mural on a wall in front of you … let’s say 300ft long and 200ft height. Enormous … I put you just 1ft away from the wall … your nose can almost touch the wall … then I tell you … I take off your blindfold … please tell me what you see … you open your eyes … and what do you see? … Just a strange tangle of colors and shapes in front of you, apparently confused and disorganized. No matter how hard you try, even though you realize you are in front of something painted on a wall … you can’t see what it is about.

I say … please stay there, then I ask you: do you know what is this? Do you know what you are looking at? And you … no, I don’t … I don’t have the slightest idea … I have never seen this wall before … all I see is a bunch of colors – Well, the tangle of colors and shapes you see is the reproduction of the “The Last Judgment” by Michelangelo. You … noooo … what are you talking about?? reeaally??? … I can’t believe this… I don’t believe you … You serious about that??? Oh my God … I never would have imagined without you telling me …. yeah … of course … you don’t understand what really this is about because you are too close to the wall. You need to get as far away from the mural as possible … you really need to get far away … to see it in its entirety and understand what it is about.

The same thing happens with the things of the world … The image you have of your own world, small or big, is what makes the difference. The greater your “outlook” on the world and life, the more you understand and accept things. The lesser your outlook on the world and life, the less you understand, and the less you accept things.

Whether your world, metaphorically speaking, embraces a very vast area or goes from your front door to the street corner where your drugstore is, it will contain just the things you are used to seeing and understanding.

That will be your vision of the world. Everything else will be out of your comprehension.

So the smaller your own world, the more you are close to the things (it’s like standing very close to a huge mural … you can’t see reality in its entirety) – the more you stay in your small “backyard”, the more you will be stubbornly persuaded you are always right and the more will be the answers in your world because you don’t feel the need to know the big scheme of things – you can’t even see the importance of it, for the things of your own world are very few and as a consequence, you think you know everything. You think you got it all figured out, when in fact all you have in front of your nose is just a confused tangle of colors and shapes.

But if the “image” you have of the world is a big one, and things you should understand in it are many and they are not close to you, it is a totally different thing … you are really far away from the mural … so you can see it in its entirety … the more you see, the more you are able to take things in, learn, understand details of things; the more you understand, the more your mind will be driven by questions rather than arbitrary answers.

The ordinary mind is usually the support of the Ego, for the Ego is fundamentally a mental construction based on the beliefs and knowledge of our own world. In other words, whatever things we think and speak of are nothing but arbitrary distinctions inversely proportional to the “extent” of our own world; distinctions that we draw in our mind for our own utilitarian purposes. The bigger our world (the image we have of it), the less arbitrary distinctions (or arbitrary opinions) we give.

Mr. Doe is a nice guy … really? How do you know? Well … I know … I know because he always dresses nice … he got money, power, respect … he knows how to make his presence felt … when he talks to me he always says that I am a great guy … I like what he says (which is to say, he says what I want to hear) – So … Mr Doe is a nice guy for me. I would bet on him.

This is a classic example of the fact that you are too close to the “mural” … you just see what you see … a superficial tangle of colors and shapes … useful just for the utilitarian purposes of your Ego.
while you don’t really know anything about Mr. Doe.

You understand only what you want to understand.

But if you get far away from the small image you have of your own world … your perspective expands … you see a lot more than before and you start to take in due considerations many aspects of life in a deeper broader overview … you see the “Mural” in its entirety … you realize what you really are looking at and your opinions about many things may change.

That said, I could even be talking for hours … but the truth is that nobody can see beyond themselves. I mean, you cannot see in another human being any more than you have in yourself. Everybody has their limits … and that is precisely why Culture is the only “external tool” that can help us out to understand the world. It is the only “way” by which we can eliminate our ignorance and narrow-mindedness. It can help us get far away from the “Mural” in order to see it in its entirety … and understand what it is about.

Education, or at the very least a good base knowledge is already Culture. Books are Culture. Books are the heritage of human history.

Schopenhauer (German philosopher 1788 –1860) once said: “Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are the engines of change, windows on the world, “Lighthouses” as the poet said, “erected in the sea of time.” They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind, Books are humanity in print.”

Arthur Schopenhauer was inevitably right. Can we say he was wrong? Frankly, I don’t think so. What would we have done without written books?

I still remember a philosophy teacher’s question, as soon as I walked in my classroom, the first day of the first year of classical high school: “Guys, what’s the use of studying?” – “Who can answer this?” Someone dared … some educated guess … “You can grow up well” … or “to become a good person” … My teacher shook his head all the time … then he said: “to escape from jail” … We looked at each other … astonished. He went on “Ignorance is a prison because you don’t understand anything and don’t know what to do in there, you just have to do what they tell you to do” – He added: “We must organize the biggest prison breakout in history over the next five years” – “It won’t be easy, they want you all to be stupid, but if you go over the wall of Ignorance then you will understand without asking for help. It will be difficult to deceive you. Who’s in?”

I remembered this fact and I wrote it down while reading that “somewhere” one in twenty really understands a text … and I think about the fate of the other 19 … who risk the “life sentence” of ignorance, in the grim prison of their mind.

Do you know what I think?  A state that is called democratic must save its citizens from the prison of ignorance because it is the right thing to do. If a so-called democratic state doesn’t do that, then it is not democratic at all … because then the risks are tremendous … you know … weak-minded want the Strong Man … as it has always happened in human history … the so-called Strong Man seems strong to your eyes because he tells you you are great … you are this and that … he flatters you … he tells you he will solve everything … he is strong because of his theatrical, stupid and vulgar ways which inflame the people’s lowest instincts … he is strong because he tells you a pack of lies taking advantage of your ignorance … he is strong because he is boastful and rambling and gets hold on simple people … but in the end, he is just a crook … he can do just one thing well … looking for the dumbest people … in order to obtain and stay in power.

The Strong Man wants you ignorant so that he can dupe you easily because the moment you manage to see the entire “Mural” the game is over …

All this has already happened – and it is happening even as I write, to a greater or lesser extent, a bit everywhere.

No matter how evident the truth may be, people can’t accept what they don’t understand, that’s why if you manage to go over the wall of ignorance … you will acquire the power to figure out what’s going on in your life and what’s really happening in the society you live in.

Thank you


Massimo Scalzo
Massimo Scalzo
YOU MIGHT SAY that Massimo advises big and small companies, entrepreneurs and individuals on how to craft digital strategies that get tangible results from their tactics. Which is true. You might even agree with few german managers who called him “gute schlepper” (good tugboat in English) because of his inner strenght of pulling people toward visionary and positive goals. However, neither of these statements would be completely true. The truth is that from his childhood, Massimo was fed and watered to be someone who relates to people, is constructive, multilingual, loves the life and looks at the future. And the most amazing thing that came out of his attitude is the ability of conveying the same feeling to others For nearly twenty eight years he traveled and worked in management consulting in eight countries. His thoughts, notions, ideas, speaking engagements come from more than thirteen years as an entrepreneur and fourteen plus “on the road” for Touche & Ross, Deloitte and PricewaterHouse. On his path, he learned a great deal about customer-driven strategy and transformation, digital marketing and design thinking, working on behalf of a-z roster of clients, e.g. IBM, BMW, Frost & Sullivan, SAP, Oracle, Fiat, Salesforce, Accenture, OpenMinds and many other SMEs in several countries and industries. Massimo lives (as much as he can) in the greater Frankfurt area in Germany. He loves his two kids, Massimo and Amelka, more than anything else.

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  1. Thank you Massimo for this beautiful writing.
    Love the message in this story, and it is so true!
    The world is not happening in our head, but outside there in the world. Living life is the answer for expierence, knowledge, life lessons.
    One of the greatest question:
    Do you Dare to Live?