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Why Does Progress Look Like Destruction?

Brig Berthold
2 min readMay 1, 2019

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A universal relationship exists between progress and growth which is inextricably linked to destruction.

The most accessible analogy exists in physical fitness. Muscle growth is physiologically impossible without a rather violent tearing of the individual fibers. Those fibers, if fueled properly, will reform over time. The result is added strength.

Perhaps a bit more abstract are examples of expanding infrastructure and beautification. The gardener knows she must till the earth, breaking up the long-held formations of soil in order to cultivate healthy plant growth. So, too, must the city planning commission close portions of roadway, destroy bridges, or raze buildings in order to widen traffic lanes. All this in the spirit of growth.

Our relationships are not free from the burden of this truth. How many times have you been hurt by someone closest to you? When was the last time you inflicted harm; knowingly or by accident? In the best of times, those relationships survive and by all accounts are stronger despite — if not because of — the strife.

Even when relationships fail or die as a result of pain, are we not stronger as individuals in the aftermath? Do we not emerge with greater knowledge of how to protect ourselves and with more tools to do so?

Consider our relationships with ourselves. Much of mental health consists of breaking down our limiting beliefs or demolishing an inaccurate sense of self. Without destruction, there is no progress.

In religious terms, a doctrinal emphasis on breaking free of the natural man is universal. The disciplined pursuit of enlightenment, salvation, exaltation, or the subjugation built-in to the very term Islam. In each case, we are required to suffer a form of spiritual destruction.

We self-employed types know too well that we cannot grow without weathering destruction. We sometimes destroy our bank accounts, burden relationships, and we endure (at times, unnecessary amounts of) stress in various demonic forms of uncertainty.

Yet, one simple fact remains. We cannot experience the joys of triumph without the challenges and temporary inconveniences of destruction. The thing we must remember is that pain and hardship are symptoms of destruction.

Life is hard. And anything good in life inevitably compounds the challenge. We must take heart in the knowledge that destruction is universally tied to growth.

I challenge each of you to choose your hard. Will you endure the pain of having failed in earnest? Or will you settle for the pain of having missed out by avoiding the pre-requisite of destruction?

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Brig Berthold

I am a father, widower, and veteran. Co-host of the Baseball Together podcast and author of Sidekick: A Pregnancy Field Guide for Dudes.