What GNU/Linux and Free Software/Open-Source Software Teach Us About Forming Mutually Beneficial Symbiotic Relationships with Employees

Executive Summary

Imagine a scenario where your goal is to build a luxurious new brick home from scratch. The home will be made of massive bricks that weigh 100 pounds each. You have a pool of 100 people to choose from, but only 60% of them have the strength to lift 100 pounds. The remaining 40 people only have the strength to lift 50 pounds. You decide to use the pool of people as efficiently as possible: you employ the 60 people who CAN lift 100 pounds to build the brick home, and the 40 people (the “non-useful” people) are left to sit on the sidelines and watch their stronger brethren and sisters build the home. The philosophies of the GNU/Linux computer operating system, and of the Free Software and Open-Source software movements, teach us to cut some of the bricks in half so that the 40 people who can only lift 50 pounds now become useful. In this article, I will perform an analysis into why the cooperative mechanisms in place in the Free Software and Open-Source Software movements are in many ways superior to the competitive mechanisms that we are addicted to in Western society.

A Brief Summary of The Western Competitive Philosophy

The Western Competitive Philosophy is very easy to summarize:

  • Step 1: You are broadly trained using societal expectations as a standard.
  • Step 2: You are tested to see how well you meet the standard.
  • Step 3: Those that better meet the standard (we’ll call them Group A) are given superior positions to those who fail to meet the standard, or who meet the standard to a lesser degree (we’ll call them Group B).
  • Step 4: Those in Group B typically spend their entire lifetime in an inferior position to those in Group A, and Group B people tend to be highly UNDER-UTILIZED (they operate far below their God-given potential). Please see “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell for a deeper analysis of Steps 1-4.

Sports present a very good arena to understand the Western Competitive Philosophy, particularly a sport like American football. Example: If you can run the 40-yard dash in 4.2 seconds, you get to participate in the next round of testing. If you run the 40-yard dash in 5.0 seconds, you’re done: it’s time for you to pack your bags and go home with your tail in between your legs.

How the GNU/Linux / Free Software / Open-Source Software Ecosystem Utilizes People More EFFECTIVELY

The Western Competitive Philosophy is addicted to POWER and SPEED. In Physics, Power is literally Energy (measured in Si units of Joules, or British units of BTU) expended per unit of time. For example, if Man A is twice as powerful as Man B, then he can expend energy twice as fast as Man B: he can run faster, jump higher, lift more weight etc. So, as you can see, Power and Speed are highly interrelated. More Power means that jobs get done faster, which typically means that a company will make more profits. So what’s the problem? The people who don’t meet the standards (e.g. who can’t complete Job X in time Y or less) end up spending their lives on the sidelines either not working at all, or doing meaningless jobs that do not adequately utilize their God-given potential. Either way, they reflect a missed opportunity by society. How can society transform itself to utilize these people more EFFECTIVELY!!??

GNU/Linux and Free Software/Open-Source Software Show Us the Way Forward

Western Society LOVES to tell people what they CAN’T do: you don’t jump high enough, you can’t perform this calculation fast enough, you are not beautiful enough to be on the cover of this magazine. To add insult to injury, after telling a person what they CAN’T do, WE often use what the person CAN’T do as justification to show the person the door. 

What does the Bible, supposedly one of the pillars of Western civilization have to say on the topic of how we should treat others? Romans 12:17-21 says the following: To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  

If this is how you are supposed to treat your enemy, then how are you supposed to treat one who is not your enemy? The GNU/Linux Philosophy teaches us very clearly: Focus on what the person CAN DO, not on what they CAN’T DO. Example: You don’t know how to write computer programs? That’s fine: can you make artwork? Yes. Okay, we’ll gladly accept artwork from you. You can’t make artwork? Are you a good proof-reader? Fantastic! Why don’t you proof-read for us?

Do you see the difference? Do you see how society could be enhanced if we celebrated people for what they CAN do, instead of constantly punishing them for what they CAN’T do? Do you see how we would raise the self-esteem of under-utilized people by celebrating what they are capable of doing well, and PAYING THEM WELL to do what they are naturally talented at doing?

We think that the Biblical principles are TOO DIFFICULT to implement in real life. NO. The truth is that we are too lazy to even try, and it has come to a point where, for the first time in history, we are TRULY being punished for that laziness, as a society. Matthew 22 Verse 39 is very clear: And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Please answer this question HONESTLY: If you were examining yourself for a position, would you focus on your strengths (what you CAN do) or your weaknesses (what you CAN’T)? Surely, we, as a human society, can learn to think long-term, and start to pay so-called "average" people VERY WELL for what GOD made them good at, without always focusing on PowerSpeed, and Profits.

Thank you so much for taking some of your very valuable time to read this article!!


  • #GNU/Linux
  • #Free Software
  • #Open-Source Software
  • #Businesses_Run_On_Biblical_Principles
  • #Stop_the_Excuses
  • #Value_People_For_What_They_Are_Good_At
  • #Pay_People_What_They_Are_TRULY_Worth
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