Tikkun Olam: Give Where Giving Is Due

The ethos of open-source can be expressed in a single sentence:

Give credit where credit is due.

As a user of open-source you must honor the intentions of the author(s) of that open-source by meeting the terms and conditions of the license under which they distribute it.

As a developer of open-source you must also give credit where credit is due to those who submit bug fixes, modifications, and extensions. You must recognize their work and so help them increase their reputation. To not do so will lessen your reputation.

The same ethos applies in many other ways. For example,

Give help where help is due.

You have an obligation to help those in need of help, especially children, by providing for their education and welfare.

Give responsibility where responsibility is due.

As a leader you have a responsibility to delegate that responsibility wisely, giving those so delegated the authority to meet that responsibility. You also have a responsibility to take someone to task when they fail to meet their responsibilities.

Give burden where burden is due.

You should not undertake something of great gravity, nor ask others to be engaged in that activity, unless there is good reason to do so, carefully weighing the risks and rewards beforehand. For example, as noted in the The Declaration of Independence:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes

The present disaster of Iraq, which has cost so many good people their lives, demonstrates the tragic results that can result from ignoring these basic principles.

President Bush took us to war without good reason, chose poor leaders to manage that mission, never asked the American people to assume the burden that was their due but instead laid a great part of the burden on the members of our voluntary armed forces, and has yet to accept responsbility for his failure of leadership.

A recent column by David Brooks of the New York Times, The Entitlements People, provides a vivid demonstration of how well-intentioned leaders can do us harm by failing to accept and meet their responsibilities.

All of the above are instances of a more general principle:

Give Where Giving Is Due.

Giving is about choice, your choice.

To strive to be a giver is to seek the best in yourself, and those who do so should be honored. For example, I have had the great good fortune for almost two years now to work some of the members of IBM’s Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs team. They have the best, most noble, web address within IBM, http://ibm.com/ibm/ibmgives. For example, my volunteer efforts, including the writing of this blog, are done as a voluntary member of IBM’s On Demand Community.

This is also a fundamental ethos of Judaism, and all other religions as well:

Tikkun Olam: Repair The World.

God created a perfect world and then created imperfect Man to dwell within it, perhaps as an experiment to see which men and women would realize they could only make themselves more nearly perfect by repairing the damage to the world done my themselves and others.

The choice is mine, yours, and ours.

Tikkun Olam. Repair The World. Give Where Giving Is Due.

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