Monday, November 03, 2008

Great people inspired by great people

One of the early things I loved about Obama was his fight for open government. He was the first state senator to have a podcast telling the people he represented what he was doing for them, or at least what was going on.

So I feel lucky to have stumbled upon one of hid podcasts from 2002, being cited by another man I have a lot of respect for, Linux Torvalds.

Some quick citations:
Linus Torvalds talk about Richard Stallman, GPL and Obama on digg pointing to
Black & White By Linux Torvalds detailing how his 17 year commitment to Linux has come from what he loves, not what he hates, arguing that GPLv3 and RMS build on the later. Linus cites a speech of Barack Obama, A Call to Renewal, where he argues for people to see the good in religious and non-religious faith rather than divisions which are really so few when it comes to our desire to find truth, even if it doesn't always feel that way.

RMS is an odd guy, but I see him an iconic. He is that totally weird crazy guy talking about a different better world, completely uncompromising. I watched a video of him criticizing the OLPC where he was ranting about how it was filled with proprietary software that he couldn't remove, but the parts that were removable, he did. Now this may seem odd, cause many know the OS is is Linux based. So what is he talking about? The device firmware. He was upset that there were components in the computer that he wasn't allowed to know how they work. I laughed, but at the same time I understood. He is just the Jerry Farwell of the F/OSS world. As far as GPLv3 is concerned, I think it is a highly defensible position in a world where F/OSS is threatened in many ways. Sometimes it is just really hard to not hate what can be an alternative to what you love. My original switch to Linux was out of hate for the problems I was having with Windows, and was looking for an alternative. I had already done the Mac thing... and there is no reson to rehash that. In the 1 year and 10 months I have been windows free, I feel inspired by every problem I encounter, and accomplished with each solution I find and can share with others. Battling DRM on the other hand, or flat out buggy code, versus under developed code, just make me cynical and depressed. I have since come to LOVE Linux... but I still have a hard time escaping hate toward windows each and every time someone describes a problem that is a fault of its design and methodology or such. This has also come from no longer trying to sell Linux or Ubuntu, and focusing more on free software.

So I am amazed at both these men for their ability to find the message of love to oppose the messages of hate. Obama and Torvalds have had some heavy hitters, people very uncompromising in their position. Something that each of them iterate is that it isn't about converting the radicals, or getting people not to listen to them, it is about providing a better alternative that can inspire people to get involved.

I can't do either of these men any justice, and I would encourage everybody to read Torvalds article, and the transcript of Obama's podcast from 2002. But thinking about their words, I think this is what I find amazing in Lawrence Lessig's speeches. He talks about all the harm done in the world, with respect to culture, but with all of his focus on the simple changes we could implement to make this world a more amazing place.

Obama talks about how we can regress to citing dogma from scripture, but we can do the same thing with our law. We can't just point to law or the bible and say that is all we need. In any debate you need to get to the heart of the argument. I am sad to say that the "Yes on 8" people have put more effort into that. I think as far as pure debating goes, the yes's won, if only because the no on 8 people find the issue so simple with regard to equal rights and freedom what else is there really to say?

It can't just be obvious, or there wouldn't be an opposition. We live in a day where women have the right to vote in the United States, but how do you think Susan B. Anthony was able to argue on behalf of women in a world where there was nothing to compare it to. She had to fight that civil rights movement alone with the people that stood by her. Issues like slavery were not as obvious as we are taught in schools today; that was a major social reconstruction.

There is a lot more I want to say, but this has already gone way off topic, but I will say this: It has given me the hope back that I needed to support Barack Obama and stand by him. I am hurt by some things that I disagree with him on, but this Call to Renewal and his infomercial before he world series tells me we need this type of thinker, and kind of person that has spent more tie talking with families and real Americans than I ever have.

I don't know why he has supported some of the things he has supported, as I have mentioned, but I will trust that he will listen to the people, that that he has made informed decisions, even if not alwas the perfect one. More importantly, I think he keeps a very open mind, at least as open as I hope I can be, or that others would judge me by.

So here on November 3, here is -1 undecided voter. It is my hope that every undecided voter is undecided for the purpose of due diligence right up to the last moment, allowing our minds to be as open to possibilities as we can hope for our future.

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