There’s always been a debate over who “discovered” that the Earth is round. Pythagoras apparently suggested the idea around 570 BC, but it was Eratosthenes who estimated the Earth’s circumference in 240 BC. Yajnavalkya made mention of the Earth’s spherical nature in the ancient Vedic scriptures in the 9th century BC, but it was actually Magellan who demonstrated the Earth’s roundness in his circumnavigation of the globe in 1519. The answer hasn’t been easy in coming—the debate goes right back to the Book of Job in the Bible.
The discovery that the Earth was round greatly advanced humankind’s knowledge as we no longer had to fear dropping off the edge of the world. That is what matters, not that the discovery could be pinned to one person (or God… if you believe that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God.”—Timothy 3:16)
Great discoveries aside, even the simpler act of writing a book or composing a piece of music cannot be claimed so simply by any one individual. Yes, we can string together a bunch of words or notes and say that this is my book or my song, but did we create those words? Did we create those sounds , those rhythms? We’ve been beating on drums since before we were humans. Sound is nature, nature is sound. The word “Om” heard emanating from ashrams and yoga studios around the world literally means the “sound of the universe,” according to the Vedic scriptures. Or the Biblical version, “In the beginning was the Word.” Ultimately everything goes back to the One.
Ideas float around in the zeitgeist, one thought building on another. In the collective consciousness of humanity lies the answers to everything. We can choose to hoard thoughts to keep them to ourselves and live in a one-dimensional thought plane, or tap in to this rich field of thought—to transform our thinking into 3-D technicolour collaboration and live in a world of expansive possibility.
We are all connected. So while a thought may come to the surface for one person, is that thought not a strand in an interconnected web? Like the Earth is round example, it took many people working together to postulate the theory, and then centuries to actually prove it. Scientists work together to develop technological breakthroughs—one innovative thought leads to another. Even if working in isolation to develop some groundbreaking theory, the question arises… where did those thoughts originate? Did not humankind’s collective consciousness have something to do with everyone’s thought processes?
Although most people with great discoveries or works of art release their ideas into the world with good intentions, what happens to those ideas afterwards is far different. Copyright is akin to releasing an idea into a cage. It’s as if a baby calf was born in a factory farm. Freedom from the womb, a whole world to explore, as long as it remains confined within its 2.5×6’ cage.
With the shackles of copyright law binding “intellectual property,” thought controllers can manipulate that property to the detriment of society, the most extreme example being Monsanto’s attempt at monopolizing the global seed supply through the patent of its terminator seeds. Since the company is buying up smaller seed companies they are forcing farmers to buy from them, thus restricting their—and our—basic ability to survive.
The Internet, the great enabler of modern communication, provides examples of the other extreme. In an analysis of the top 10,000 websites, 75 percent of them were running on open source web server software. And as far as blogging platforms go, the open source WordPress powers one out of every six sites on the web or 60 million websites.
If the code for those systems were closed far less people would be making websites and even accessing the web (because there would be less to access). But since they are open they have facilitated outstanding growth. WordPress, for example, has created an industry in which an estimated 20,000 people make money selling premium services and support for the millions of WordPress bloggers.
The Internet accelerates this open thought process because it gives us the means to wire our neurons together across oceans. By opening up our “intellectual property” to the greater good through a flexible form of licensing like GPL (i.e. WordPress and Linux) or Creative Commons (i.e. websites such as this one and Wikipedia) we share our ideas to a degree never before possible, open ourselves to limitless possibility and form connections never before imagined.
So do we rein the horse in, put blinders on it, saddle it and sit on it, the weight of repressed freedom dragging our ideas down or do we let our thoughts roam free in the wilderness of the creative commons as a wild horse galloping along the open plain? It is our choice to live in fearful greed or expansive abundance.
Let’s co-create a growing dialogue on this important topic of thought freedom. Send us your thoughts as Comments and we will add them to this article.