The ability to use one’s mind to bring forward something from nothing – literally gets us about as close to our Creator as can be expected on this planet.
While I know not everyone ascribes an other-worldly power to creation – I know others appreciate it.
Entrepreneur extraordinaire Peter Thiel – certainly, for whatever his reasons, values creation.
Thiel’s ability to create – made him a billionaire.
And Thiel re-demonstrates his appreciation of creation every day – as a venture capitalist. He looks for other creations he thinks are worthy – and puts his money where their ideas are.
Thiel co-wrote the book “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.” Which is an edited collection of class lectures he’d given – on the vital import of creation.
In it, Thiel describes “One to…” – the replication of an idea. You have a product that works in the US – so you start selling it in Europe. And Asia. And.…
But before you can go from “One to…” – you must go from “Zero to One.” Before you can re-create – you must create.
I am a retired musician. I failed to sell the fifteen million records I had in mind – but I long engaged in the pursuit thereof.
I created the songs we played (when we weren’t in college bars – and had to recreate songs other people wrote that the audiences recognized).
My “writing process” – was to me nothing short of miraculous. The songs would literally roll over me like a wave.
I would go from nothing – to having words and music totally done…in like thirty seconds. Maybe a minute. It was crazy.
And all along the way, I have been writing prose. My first published thing was a fictional short story in fifth grade.
For these reasons – and thousands more – I have always valued creation…and the creators.
Not just because of the things I can create. But most especially because of the things I can not.
Radio impresario Rush Limbaugh has a personal and highly effective definition of art – for people who can not create it:
“Art is something I can not do.”
I think the creation of anything real – is art.
Kearns invented the intermittent windshield wiper. Prior to his flash of genius – and his diligence in bringing it to physical reality – wipers were either off…or on very, very fast.
Kearns’ intermittent wiper – dealt with intermittent precipitation. Simple, eloquent brilliance.
Kearns created his wiper in the late 1960s. He patented it. And then pitched it to Detroit’s Big Three automakers – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Trying to entice them into licensing his creation.
All three declined. And then all three began producing cars – with intermittent wipers. Big Business – had yet again screwed the Little Guy Inventor.
Kearns spent the next several decades as an automotive Don Quixote – trying to tilt the Big Three into admitting they’d stolen his idea.
Kearns’ pursuit of justice – cost him his family. His wife left him under the stress and strain – and took their six children with her.
Over the decades, Kearns was repeatedly offered increasing sums of money. But he refused them all – because the coin wasn’t accompanied by their admissions the creation was his.
In the movie, someone exasperatedly says to Kearns: “It’s just a windshield wiper.”
To which Kearns rightly, righteously replies: “To me – it’s the Mona Lisa.”
Human nature informs us here of two immutable things.
A society that appreciates and respects creation and creators – is a place of light and jubilation.
When creators can benefit from their creations – they share them with all of us. And then we all benefit.
Our lives are easier, and better, and richer – thanks to the creators’ creations.
In a society that appreciates and respects creation and creators – creators are compensated.
If a creator make things better for hundreds of millions of people – the compensation certainly should be at least in the millions of dollars.
And in a society that appreciates and respects creation and creators – no one begrudges the man his millions.
A society that steals the creations from creators – is a place of darkness, resentment and anger.
Creators who have their creations taken from them – will do everything they can to keep them secret. And even worse – stop creating them.
Which means we all are deprived of them.
Our lives are then harder, and worse, and poorer.
We are left dirty, angry and crouched. Huddled around open fires in caves – fighting each other for whatever scraps we can find.
In 1651, Thomas Hobbes published “Leviathan.” In which he describes this latter, awful state of man:
“In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
All of which is why Abraham Lincoln:
“Called the introduction of patent laws one of the three most important developments ‘in the world’s history’ – along with the discovery of America and the perfection of printing.”
Because prior to Intellectual Property protection, life for just about everyone throughout human history – was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
Life with respect for individual property – is the United States.
Life with a mandate of communal property – is Venezuela.
We’ll close with with one final juxtaposition – this one in Afghanistan.
Give or take 1,700 years ago – creators therein created two towering, astonishing and beautiful stone Buddhas.
And in 2001, the Taliban destroyed them.
In which society do you wish to live?