No compromise: Being a hero in Berlin

When they built the infamous wall in Berlin to separate the Soviet-run communist East from the relatively free West, not everyone just went along with with the “powers that be” decided for their lives.

What would you do if say, a government project, like a wall, was to be built right by your house? Would you go along with it, allow them to seize your property or decide your fate for you?

Would you back down and sell out because “path of least resistance” and all that?

I’m not sure what I would do. I like to think I would try to be a hero.

And that’s exactly what one man from Turkey did when the wall went up. There was still space for a garden, so he built a garden that was technically supposed to be part of communist territory, but since the wall had not been curved to accommodate a tiny bend in the border, sat on the west side.

Osman Kalin created a garden and a tree house at the wall. At the time, he didn’t know this was part of East Germany.

The West German bureaucrats came to chase him away, but he simply told them to leave. And they did!

When the East German authorities came to question him, believing he was a spy for the west, he was defiant. When they asked for his identification, he threw it at their feet, saying “Here you go, it’s just a piece of paper. Let’s talk like human beings.”

And this direct communication actually created a connection between Kalin and the East German jack boot, and he was able to keep his garden & tree house!

In 1989, when the wall came down, his garden and tree house were being threatened again to be demolished. But local people rallied to his defense, and Kalin, to this day in 2016, at age 94, still lives there and still has his garden! I snapped a quick photo of him sitting in his garden:


This true story got me thinking.

How many times do I just take the easy way out of things and not stand my ground when it matters?

When you stand for what you believe in, you will often piss a lot of people off. But you will attract others to you and what you believe in.

And you will build your self esteem.

And you will live an epic life.

There is a price to pay for going along with the status quo, doing what everyone else is doing, believing in what everyone else is believing.

That price can be living a life of quiet desperation. Not standing up for what you believe in means you will often not state your needs in relationships. The bigger things, like our core beliefs, are essential to the survival of our true self- the one that can experience life to the fullest, have deep meaningful relationships, and fulfilling careers.

This all comes down to drawing a line in the sand. We all had difficult childhoods, at least to some degree. Most of us went through the meat grinder of our school system.

“Group think” is the norm in most parts of the world, but most people are walking around with regrets and deep unmet needs that are literally killing them.

When is the right time to challenge the beliefs about yourself that are preventing you from getting the freedom you really crave in life?

Osman Kalin did not care what other people thought of him. In the face of violent threats, he put it back in their faces, and won. He became the hero of his own life. The community had so much respect for him that they rallied to his defense when threats came.

What are you giving up on in your own life?

What needs are going unmet?

What emotions are you ignoring, and where are you taking the path of least resistance?

What walls have you create to protect yourself from short term conflict or pain that could lead to freedom & happiness in the long term?

When you can start to honestly answer those questions, you can start to take control of your life.

The uncomfortable edge is where the good stuff happens.

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Kevin Koskella

Kevin is a podcaster and writer on living free, despite the crazy world we live in. Kevin travels full time and explores the world and how to achieve and maximize freedom in life.

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