Many scoff at Larry Lessig. They say he is an optimist, out of touch with reality.
But what is it that is said about the people who ultimately change the world? “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”- Ghandi
Larry Lessig, if you don’t already know of him is one of the original creators of the Creative Commons. Creative commons lets any individual creator manage their rights to content, fundamentally updating the original notion of copyright to be less-lawyer intensive and right-sized for the Social Era. Since then, he’s gone one to support the Sunlight Foundation, aimed at opening up transparency to who is financing what. More recently, he’s been focused on dealing with political corruption, at RootStrikers.
His TED2013 talk at TED was, well, a stunning talk, one of my top 5 that I’ve been waiting to share…and it went live on TED.com today. Although it’s focused on the US, the issues it raises apply far more broadly.
“I get this sense of impossible, but I don’t buy it,” Lessig said. “This is a solvable issue. Think about the issues our parents tried to solve in the twentieth century–racism, sexism, or the issue we’ve been fighting this century, homophobia. Those are hard issues. You don’t just wake up one day no longer a racist,” he describes lyrically. “This is a problem of incentives. Change the incentives and the behavior changes.” When Connecticut first adopted the system, 78% of elected representatives gave up on large contributions within the first year.
Lessig closed with a story that I have been incredibly struck by. He said that he had kids, and he imagined a doctor saying ‘your son has terminal inoperable brain cancer. There is no doubt he would die, and there’s nothing you can do.’ He then asks … Would I do nothing? Would I just sit there? Of course not. I would do EVERYTHING I could do because this is what love means. “The odds are irrelevant. You do whatever the hell you can, the odds be damned.”
And the note I made to myself that I want to pass on to you:
What is it you love SO MUCH that you are willing to fight for it?