“Even the god of the old, in the wildest imaginings of their worshippers, never undertook such gigantic tasks of world-wide dimension as those which Tesla attempted and accomplished.” ~ Preface to Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla, John O’Neill, 1944.
I want to write about Nikola Tesla for a couple of reasons. The obvious reason is that he was one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived. More than this, he was a true humanitarian that devoted his whole life to make this world a better place. However, he is still highly unrecognized today by the world he helped create – see people driving Teslas without actually knowing who he is. Given the fact that we are all benefitting from his brilliance, I feel it is only right to know his name.
The more I learnt about him, the more fascinated I became with his way of being. By reading his words, I have discovered his humanism and generosity of spirit, and even more than this, the world reflected from his heart. And his existence made me happy. A life used for creation, “out of reverence for his own noble soul”, to paraphrase Nietzsche. I think in times like this we all need worthy examples to look up to, men that stand up for something good and meaningful; that use their lives for creation, and not destruction; that want to unite, not to divide; people of character that respect themselves and the others and their words and actions are one and the same. Nikola Tesla is one of these rare people that occasionally inhabit this world of ours.
The Serbian-American inventor has been referred to as “The man that invented the 20th century”, “Creator of the modern era”, “The genius that lit the world”, “The man out of time”; some even believed that he was a time traveler sent to Earth in order to advance the humankind. Reading some of his progressive views from more than one hundred years ago and seeing where we are now, I believe he might as well had been an alien. Mark Twain might share this opinion as well. I won’t get into this topic now, but I thought it would be funny to mention.
He was not only an inventor and a discoverer but also a visionary, a philosopher, a futurist, a humanitarian, a noble man who lived according to his highest ideal, dedicating his life to creation for the benefit of the humankind.
Most of everything that we are using in our modern era is, one way or another, related to one of the inventions or principles that Nikola Tesla discovered. He developed the modern alternating current that is basically powering our entire world. With this single invention he improved the living conditions of millions upon millions of people, up to the present time. “The desire that guides me in all I do is the desire to harness the forces of nature to the service of mankind.” He wanted to build his AC motor in order to give it to the world, so “no more will men be slaves to hard tasks. My motor will set them free, it will do the work of the world.”
“Never was a human being filled with loftier ideals. Never did a man labor so unceasingly, so earnestly, so unselfishly for the benefit of the race. Tesla is not rich. He does not trouble himself about money. Had she chosen to follow in the footsteps of Edison he could be, perhaps, the richest man in the world.” “Tesla is, above all things, a serious man, undoubtedly, the most serious man in New York.
“There is something within me that might be illusion as it is often case with young delighted people, but if I would be fortunate to achieve some of my ideals, it would be on the behalf on the whole of humanity.”
The following is a handwritten note from 1942, a year before his death, expressing his hopes for a new world, a world that he envisioned and enlightened, both metaphorically and literally.
“Out of this war, the greatest since the beginning of history, a new world must be born, a world that would justify the sacrifices offered by humanity.” “This new world must be a world in which there shall be no exploitation of the weak by the strong, of the good by the evil; where there will be no humiliation of the poor by the violence of the rich; where the products of intellect, science and art will serve society for the betterment and beautification of life, and not the individuals for achieving wealth. This new world shall not be a world of the downtrodden and humiliated, but of free men and free nations, equal in dignity and respect for men.”
Not every one of us can be a genius inventor, but in the same time each of us can do something, in his own life, for Nikola Tesla’s vision of peace to come true.