Open-Source, Trees and Greatness

There’s a quote, a Greek proverb, that came to my attention a few months ago and never left for a moment.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

Isn’t that amazing? Doesn’t that complete sum up the good we still continue to find hidden in the cracks of a seemingly broken humanity?

I kept thinking about it, almost daily — it felt so… familiar. So relatable.

It represented everything I wanted to be — my ultimate purpose; our ultimate purpose. Society is getting there. We’re all getting there. It’s taking time but we as humans are starting to realise that true progress comes in the form of planning and improving the future, rather than focussing on the past.

It’s going to take a lot of little steps from a lot of different people. We, as developers, enthusiasts, supports, adopters and lovers of open-source — we are taking over own little steps in a big way.

Isn’t that what open-source is about?

Planting seeds with code and ideas that may take years, decades, lifetimes to blossom. We’re giving ourselves, all of us, to the simple of idea of building beautiful, real things that we may never see come to fruition, all because we hope one day, they will grow into trees; large, scaleable, over-reaching trees that will not only serve their purpose as answers to the yet-to-be-discovered problems we as a society will one day face, but the trees from which branches will continue to grow, stretching far and wide, making anything and everything possible.

We’ll never see the shade. The shade is but only an inevitable reminder of why we do what we do. But it’s there, in our minds, and it drives us to keep planting the seeds, watering them, feeding them, keep an eye on them — so that one day, those that follow us can bask in the shade.

And those that end up sitting in the shade… they’ll plant the next trees. Because a society is only as great as those that emerge from it.