Can You Create Something From Nothing?

“For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

“They always win, how in the world can they lose? Ooooooo They never lose, never lose. Because the rich get richer. And the poor keep on getting poorer.”

One of these quotes is from the Bible and the other is from an O’jays song. See if you can guess which is which. The answer may surprise you…

The original question, “can you create something from nothing?” can be examined in a number of ways.

Firstly, we could look at this in a prime mover metaphysical sense. For example, how could the universe develop from nothing? People often point to this question to make a case for the existence of god. These discussions are fun, but I don’t understand them well enough to effectively weigh in. So, let’s stick with slightly less abstract matters pertaining to this subject.

Looking at it from a physical perspective, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around something coming from nothing. For a tree to grow, it needs the seed which it sprouted from as well as the soil, water, and sunlight that nourished it. It isn’t just nothing and then a tree without an “in-between” phase. But is that all it needs to grow to maturity? What else allows a tree to thrive for hundreds of years and surpass the ones around it?

Let’s treat this tree like one in a story book and say it has the ability to work towards growing as well. It’s capable of putting in effort. So, it gets enough water, soil, and sunlight and it works hard to grow. It’s grown past all of the other trees and now, it is shading other trees from getting any sunlight, preventing them from growing. But our tree can keep growing forever and ever at this point, the sky is, very literally, the limit.

That tree’s hard work did not lead to its growth. The fact that it had every resource it ever needed in order to thrive allowed it to gather even more resources. The rich got richer. Or in this case, the tree got…tree-ier.

The point is, if you are successful, stop telling people you achieved this success because you worked hard. There were thousands/millions/billions of other people who worked just as hard as you and never experienced success due to a variety of factors including where they were born, when they were born, the environment they grew up in, the functional ability of their brains, and on and on.

Billionaires are now routinely flying to space for a thrill while the lowest paid workers in their company are denied bathroom breaks throughout the day.

But we keep defending these billionaires, saying that they worked hard and earned it.

They didn’t create something from nothing. They multiplied the something they were given by gathering every resource they could in excess and denying others these same resources.

So, what is the solution?

It’s really not that complicated. We know what is included in the basic elements of living: food, shelter, clean air, and I would also include healthcare (there are probably a few others that could be debated). These things, at a minimum, provide a person with dignity and the ability to continue living.

Raising taxes and allocating more funds toward people receiving these resources would solve the issue. This way, less people would have to eat out of dumpsters and sleep on park benches until they’re woken up by the sound of their boss’s rocket taking off for another trip to the moon for the fun of it.

It shouldn’t be hard for us to agree that everyone deserves the necessities of life and a little bit of dignity regardless of where they come from or how hard they’ve worked. But somehow, it seems like this is the hardest thing in the world for us to accept.

2 thoughts on “Can You Create Something From Nothing?

  1. Trent Crimm, the independent (where are all my Ted Lasso or as I call them “Lassoers” out there!).

    What about the rags to riches stories? Those people come from next to nothing, but are able to create extraordinary wealth for themselves. I’m sure there are accounts of individuals swindling the very next to nothing people they once were which could be even worse of an atrocity.

    What say you!


    1. Trent! Wonderful to hear from you. I would say that 1) there are exceptions to every rule, 2) if you have a specific example, perhaps we could analyze it, 3) If those rags to riches people had been born at a different time or were born with a severe disability, or had other similar issues, would hard work have helped them overcome their circumstances and rise to the level of extraordinary wealth? There’s no doubt that hard work is necessary for success in anything, but it is a factor that can be negated in many cases. Perhaps a rags to riches individual made money off of a book about the atrocities they suffered early in life. Was it then solely because of their hard work that they rose to where they are now, or was it also a product of their circumstance and the publisher knowing that they too will make millions off of this person’s story? I don’t mean to malign hard work by any means. But in my mind, it is a negligible factor. If you’re not working hard and you were born at the bottom, you’ll probably never get to the top. If you’re at the top and you don’t work very hard, you’ll probably still be able to coast your way through the rest of your life and never truly reach the bottom.


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