George Eastman (July 12, 1854 – March 14, 1932) invented roll film and an easy-to-operate camera that he brand-named the Kodak. He founded the Eastman Kodak Company, which manufactured cameras and photographic supplies, and made the art of photography accessible to the masses. His business success was founded on a combination of good practices, including attractive benefits for his employees and desirable products for his customers. During his lifetime, he donated $100 million, mostly to the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yet, during an illness in his later years, he ended his life by suicide.
From a Unification perspective, several points can be made:
- Eastman's brilliant mental capabilities were linked to his God-given spiritual dimension, and also reflected the Creator's intelligence and capabilities. Such capabilities set the human species apart from all other species on Earth. The human desire to engage in scientific and other intellectual pursuits, regardless of their practical benefits, demonstrates that their lives can transcend the day-to-day, survival mode. Moreover, long-term happiness is linked to going beyond that survival mode.
- God's desire is that all people express brilliance of mind far beyond what is thought of as normally possible. Humanity's deliberate separation from God has dulled its spirits and minds, and pulling humanity into the trap of lowered expectations, in the belief that where people are at (internally) is where they are supposed to be and will always be.
- Eastman's business philosophy was not to get rich quickly, but to follow principles that would benefit his employees and customers, as well as himself. In this manner, he showed that the principle of "living for the sake of others" is not merely an idealistic philosophy but makes good sense in practical terms as well.
- God works through prepared human beings to raise levels of thought and standards of life. Thus, leading scientists and inventors (such as Eastman), as well as major religious leaders, have received inspirations that elevated the understanding of the world and helped humanity take practical steps toward establishing stewardship of true love over the creation.
- Some may justify Eastman's suicide because he was suffering from a debilitating illness. Yet, from the viewpoint of the Unification principle, people need to live out their physical lives through difficulties as well as through easy times. One reason is that God sees human lives in a larger context that people often fail to see. Also, if one can maintain equanimity and gratitude during difficult times, one has the opportunity for internal, spiritual growth.
- Ultimately, Eastman's work was a service to humanity. As the Unification principle points out, when people live for the sake of others, human beings substantiate the divine nature God has given them. Based on that, humankind can establish a world of peace that all humanity can benefit from.