Modern examples of transcending enmity
Coming back to recent history, we have Booker Washington, the leading voice of slaves and Blacks in America during the late nineteenth century. He was born into slavery and received food from his masters like a dumb animal would get its share. But he nursed no hate and said these famous words, “I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” He fought for justice and equality but minus the anger and aversion.
The rivalry of Thomas Alva Edison and Nikola Tesla in the world of engineering is legendary in its own right. Although Edison is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest inventors ever, the lesser known Nikola Tesla was a high-minded soul.
Tesla was a young eccentric genius when he joined the celebrated inventor Thomas Edison to help him install lab equipment and design new machines. Tesla’s brilliance, photographic memory, and passion for hard work led him to develop his own inventions and soon a famous competition with Edison, called as the ‘Current wars,’ grabbed headlines. Soon after that Tesla had to contend with the renowned Italian, Marconi, who patented the wireless radio and won a Nobel Prize. When Tesla was asked to comment, he said, “Marconi is a good man, let him continue alone. He is using seventeen of my patents.” Although for Tesla, it was a blip affair and he didn’t make a hue and cry about the injustice, years later the US Supreme court recognized the wrongdoing by Marconi and overruled his patents in favor for Tesla. Tesla sought fairness and recognition for his works. He fought for his rights but carried no grudges- he busied in his work, fed the pigeons, and walked ten kilometers daily to exercise. Meanwhile, the media’s exaggerated portrayal of their rivalry was in poor taste, and none of the papers bothered to highlight Tesla’s ‘let go’ attitudes accurately.
Today, Tesla is best known for his design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Since he wasn’t a hardcore businessman or a go-getter, he lost many of his patents and died a poor man. He loved his work though and harbored no ill-feelings to any of his rivals- Edison or Marconi. Tesla’s famous words ring so true in this age of anger and antipathy, “If your hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.”
The world surely needs more of Nikola Tesla’s and Aki’s, to teach us to forgive, let live, and love while you can live in your brief sojourn in this world.