VulnerableWin is an ambitious, non-glamorous, roll-up-your-sleeves initiative designed to create small incremental changes in how we think about each other, how we communicate, how we turn our vulnerability into strength and kindness, through education, art, and direct experiences. 60% of it is love, 35% is patience, and 5% is everything else.
I am an immigrant.
Ever since I was a child, I had a very strong desire to create peace. I was born in Moscow. I’ve lived and worked in Tibet. I have fought off a sex trafficker in China. I have experienced abuse. I have fought for respect and won. I’ve had crazy adventures up the wazoo, been exposed to numerous ideologies, and learned to get along with different personalities. Anywhere I went, I saw people who craved love and respect. Over time, it became blatantly obvious to me that if you have the patience, behind any intimidating facade you’ll find a human being with a unique story and a soul that craves acceptance and dignity.
SEE A FELLOW HUMAN
If you ask enough questions about their life, you will find somebody vulnerable, your fellow traveler in the land of the confusing and sometimes very frustrating human experience, who might very well be doing their best under the circumstances. In the end, you may agree or disagree on the talking points – but the process of listening to somebody with love, without being intimidated by them, is very empowering and therapeutic. It creates a foundation for finding better solutions to the existing problems. Scientists will explain it in fifty years, but it already works.
Desire of victory at the cost of murdering somebody else’s identity creates an imbalance, and never leads to any kind of lasting satisfaction, unless you are a blood-thirsty psychopath by birth – which most people aren’t. We do it because we are scared. There is a collective habit that needs to be kicked, and re-learning the art of dialogue is a good way to start.
Changing the world is possible. It’s just not always visible, and almost never immediate.
In the past two years, our nation has become so anxious and divided that restoring the art of heart-to-heart dialogue is almost an emergency.
What I consider a successful ongoing result of this project is not the sudden disappearance of any disagreement – that is not possible as long as we are human – but starting from where we are, and discovering together that being loved and accepted does not have to depend on being always right, and that bullying is not necessary for the survival of our identity.
What’s it going to be in practical terms? A lot of dialogue. Different forms of dialogue, online dialogue, live dialogue, artistic dialogue. Getting together. Learning together. Helping each other be strong.
Initially, there will be three components to the project, all involving talking to each other: a modest media platform, live events, and education. My role is to build, organize, love, and be patient. The role of every participant is to be responsible.
A place where different views meet and co-exist. It will feature guests from all walks of life, with varied backgrounds and perspectives.
Each guest will be encouraged to talk about any topic close to his or her heart, but all presenters will have to promise to focus on themselves – their personal experiences and hopes, things that make them inspired or afraid – and not on somebody else’s ideas or generalizations. Nothing is off limits, and all judgment is suspended. People who choose to talk about a political issue will have to focus on how the issue impacts them personally.
The star of the show will be the subjective, emotionally honest world of the person talking, the world in which they are exactly who they are and can teach us something about the unique piece of the universe that is them. Degrading the spirit of another person by putting words in their mouth and name calling are not allowed. To set a good example of how we can get along, I will make sure to invite plenty of people who I don’t agree with.
The name of the game is, See a Fellow Human.
Live events will feature original thought and unique experiences. There will be debates, roundtables, and community events. Every participant will be officially allowed to have a personality, an individual perspective, and real feelings. Nobody will be shamed for their authentic point of view, because it is about learning. Debates will NOT be centered around winning an argument or being morally superior. They will be centered around the awe of learning about another person’s authentic life experience.
Saying what you think, allowing yourself to be intelligently vulnerable – and being taken seriously – is a feeling we all miss in our daily lives, no matter the social status and the world view.
Expressing our true views and allowing others do the same are small miracles that can go a long way, and free a lot of good energy that is now wasted on bullying.
Those who intentionally try to use the opportunity for branding or bullying, will experience my merciless wit, and will not be invited again.
It’s like a safe space but better – because safety is ensured not by putting a plug on the verbal expression while letting resentment build up, but by making sure that even though we are not perfect, there is LOVE in the room.
Using my experience, I will create one-of-a-kind educational resources to help people turn the inevitable fact of being vulnerable into strength and kindness. I even have a few entertaining exercises that don’t feel anything like self-help (because they aren’t… I have love and life experience, I don’t have the guru shine in my eyes).
CONCLUSION (AND THE HOOK)
We can respect individuality and community at the same time. Without individuality (i.e. being able to express who you really are), life is oppressive. Without community, life is cold. A successful, healthy community cannot exist without individual free expression. We don’t have to murder one in order to keep the other. We can talk to each other. We can disagree. We can be who we are, and allow others to do the same, and we can use common sense, love, and inner confidence to build beautiful, subjective bridges.
Is my idea counter culture and borderline insane? Yes, and a major pain in my arse.
Why am I bothering? Because somebody has to do it, and I have the patience and the itch.
Sadly, unlike divisive clickbait sensationalism, peace is labor-intensive and not intrinsically profitable. I don’t count on high-end corporate donors. If they materialize, great, but I am not offering a gimmick, what I am offering is common sense, patience, good will, and hard work. I am not disrupting anything except stupidity. Therefore, I count on the wisdom of the universe, on my strength, my luck, and everybody’s kindness. I have an ocean of love, and perhaps two oceans of patience – but cannot do it on my own.