Plagiarism and Humility

When the poet has an inspiration, when the scholar has an idea, when the journalist has a breakthrough, they feel an unbearable urge to express their findings to others. They will usually meditate over their lexicon and chose words painstakingly and meticulously, one by one. They will then weave the words to each other and blends them together in beautiful harmony. Behold, a piece of art!

The antithesis to art is plagiarism. For the true artist uses his creativity as a vehicle to convey his deepest emotions and feelings. He will therefore never find satisfaction in merely copying someone else’s works. As every artist of any form will tell you, that the biggest insult is being told that he’s a parrot.

However, being accused of plagiarism is almost inevitable. For many minds think alike, and therefore express themselves similarly. Personally, I’ve recently been accused of this capital sin by none other than my dear uncle, the great Rabbi Abraham Twerski M.D. (author of 80 books) in an email:

“Dear Mozer, you’re plagiarizing me. But that’s fine, I’m not original either.”

The reaction we naturally have to the realization that someone has already thought of our idea, or expressed what we thought was original to us, is disappointment. For we crave to create something new to our name, we want our own signature on a good piece. But if we can put our feelings aside we can come to appreciate the accusations of plagiarism as a badge of honor rather than an insult. My uncle is a renowned scholar and a brilliant writer, the fact that I came to the same conclusions he did gives me pride and legitimization. The fact that no one thought of your brainstorm can actually mean that your thought is flawed. (See further analysis on this topic in this post I wrote last year.) With some humility, the knowledge that the wise and scholars preceded you in this idea, or have written in identical fashion is comforting and validating.

4 Replies to “Plagiarism and Humility”

    1. True. But there’s Mozart, Elvis, Beatles. and then there’s everyone else… I’m not putting myself in that category. But you can do great things with words, as you know being a talented writer yourself 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree with you. If you read a John Donne, Ben Jonson or a Dryden. Most of the words that could have been written. Were. The ancient writer of the 1500. They are the reasons for us to love and appreciate poetry and story. The world had so many great writers. We honor them by borrowing a verse.

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