You put hours of work and research into your crafts, and then someone emails you with, “Could you share how you make your product?” What is the Catholic answer to this situation? It might be a little different than your instinct.
Like most things in life, I don’t think there is a prescriptive “Catholic” answer to situations like this. Womp womp. So, I decided to ask my husband, and he came up with some bangers.
photo credit | dollar photo club | nikolaydonetsk
So, Mike’s company makes parts for planes that are often used in combat. It is a top secret 007 facility, so they don’t share industry secrets because it is a matter of national security (much fancy). The processes of his company also create jobs for thousands of people, so sharing those things would eliminate the livelihood of tons of people.
Those reasons seem pretty obvious. If it is a matter of security or livelihood for your family or business, then, no, it might actually be wrong to share your secrets.
What about something with lower stakes like personal recipes? If a friend asked you for your recipe at a potluck, 99% of time you would share it. But maybe you don’t want to share your secret sauce because it is special to you – it makes you stand out. And that’s ok to keep it to yourself.
Is what you’re doing something very special to you that makes you unique? In this case, you can choose whether or not to share, and either way is equally fine.
Sometimes the info that you’re being asked for can easily be looked up; it might be public knowledge. While it may be annoying to have to answer these questions for someone when you took the time to figure it all out yourself, the charitable thing may be to share the information or point the person in the right direction to finding it.
Then again, the time that you put into research and development is part of the product cost. If the hours that you put into trial and error and picking and choosing is integral to the quality of your product, sharing might jeopardize that.
Think about the goal of your business. Is it to help humanity in some way? The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, put it this way: “If we’re all in a ship together, and the ship has some holes in it, and we’re sort of bailing water out of it, and we have a great design for a bucket, then even if we’re bailing out way better than everyone else, we should probably still share the bucket design.”
But maybe your goal is to make some extra money for your family. Is divulging information about your craft going to dilute the field and take away from your income? Or perhaps you just create for fun, and there is no consequence for giving up that knowledge.
In the end, whatever you decide, you do need to respond to inquiries in a Catholic way. It ends up being more about why you choose whether or not to share trade secrets and how you go about interacting with the person asking.
Has this ever happened to you? What was your response?