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?
Great post and great quote Nilofer. Larry was one of my top 3 talks too. The note I made about this was “second revolutionary war.” I am willing to fight for it.
I found the issue of Love so captivating. I’m fighting for Work to be a place where everyone can be fully alive. Not a cog in a system, but celebrated for their onlyness.
Thanks for sharing. I had not yet seen this talk, but found it brilliant and inspiring. We Canadians share so much with our neighbours to the South, and this need to fight to make it right is one more commonality. Pick your fight people……and never give up.
Thanks for sharing such a great post Nilofer! I fight everyday for happiness and freedom for myself and for everyone I can. That’s what I believe in…that we all have a right to enjoy every day we have on this Earth…no matter where we live, where we come from, or what has happened to us.
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