The little one's in bed, trying, in her excitement, to get to sleep. Except she's not so little anymore. At 10, she's very wise to the ways of Santa, so that little piece of magic seems forever lost.
But is it always so?
The other day, I was in Chicago, visiting an old friend that I had not seen in person for three years. He teaches philosophy at a major university, and mentioned that next semester he's teaching a course on freedom. Immediately, I jibed him with the question, "free as in beer or free as in freedom?" Then I spent the next 10 minutes explaining what I meant.
And as I was giving my friend the Reader's Digest version of the history of the free software and open source software movements, I found myself getting more excited, more eager to tell the story. Even after all these years, relating the intricacies of FOSS yet again still brought positive feelings up to the surface.
Why, I wonder? It's not like this stuff is still new to me. By now, it should be old hat. But for some reason, it's not. It's not old hat. It's still something new to be shared, and shared willingly.
To compare the excitement of FOSS to the childhood wonder of the holidays is a bit excessive, I know. But sometimes I wonder if a bit of that old, forgotten sense of joy from our past is somehow rekindled just a bit when we realize that being a part of the FOSS movement is being a part of something bigger than any one of us. That we can believe in something that can bring much joy to the world.
There are many belief systems in the human race, including the belief of not believing in anything. In almost every single one of these belief systems, there seems to be a tenet that directs people to put the needs of the other person right up there with their own needs. Perhaps even over their own needs.
Free software and open source software fit right in with this tenet: it is an expression of the human capacity to give positive things to the rest of society.
Is it magic? Or just another socio-political aspect of the human condition? Call it what you will, but on this day, I'd like to just take this moment and appreciate the gift of freedom that those who build FOSS give us all year round.
And if you happen to hear sleigh bells some night, or the slapping of tiny penguin feet on the roof, well... that will be our little secret.
Peace on Earth, throughout the year.