Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Flash of Genius

We settled in this evening to watch a movie called A Flash of Genius.  It's the story of an American college professor who invents the intermittent windshield wiper.  Together with a friend in the automotive industry, he approaches the Ford Motor Company, desiring to manufacture the wiper motors himself and partner with Ford.   Ford backs out, leaving him with nothing.

The movie was worth watching for the life's lessons taught.  It showed a man determined to get what was fair - to get recognition for what he had invented - but at what cost?

Robert Kearns, the inventor, spent a lifetime trying to prove he was right.  He lost his wife, and the battle became his entire life.  

Maureen Kearns said her father's home was filled with legal files. After a point, she said, "his life was simply this battle."

Kearns died in 2005.  

He acted as his own lawyer during much of the long battle with the car companies.  It wasn't just about the money, but he wanted to become a major manufacturer and make the devices himself.  

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn presided over the trials.

"He was feisty, determined and he established the fact that he made a contribution to the auto industry that was unique," Cohn said. "His zeal got ahead of his judgment."

The film left me saddened.  Oh, it was good that he won his court battle, and that he got some measure of recognition.  But the cost was too high.

Mark 8:36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

And what does it profit a man to gain millions of dollars and recognition, yet forfeit his marriage?

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