Saturday, October 8, 2011

Frustration over Steve Jobs



Is it too soon to abandon this black pit of sorrow over Steve Jobs? Because I'm really struggling to understand this panorama of global grief.

People are calling Steve Jobs a great man. Bloggers are writing tributes to his life's work. The media is tripping over itself to see who can prostrate themselves lowest before Jobs' memory. Facebook and Twitter have been flooded with RIP messages professing heart-wrenching grief.

And then there's me, irritably muttering about the absolute waste of emotion being spilled over Steve Jobs. Am I the only one who's puzzled about why Steve Jobs is so deserving of free-flowing tears from absolute strangers?

I'm not talking about his friends and family - I understand their grief and they have my sincere condolences. My own dad passed away quite abruptly at a relatively young age, yet still I can only imagine the devastating hole left in the lives of those closest to Jobs.

But what about all the grief from thousands, millions, possibly billions of people whose closest contact to Jobs was the iPhone in their pocket? Why are they despondent with grief?


Don't be thinking I'm oblivious to what Steve Jobs accomplished. And don't be thinking that I'm criticizing or judging Jobs. I don't know anything about his personal life or what his motivations were because he preferred to keep his personal life personal. Like all those millions of grievers out there, I know only what I read about him.

There's no denying Steve Jobs' accomplishments: he revolutionized our world of technology before most of us realized it had even happened. He presided over one of the most remarkable corporate comebacks in history. He took on the powerful music moguls - and won. He provided the vision that propelled Apple to invent some of the most successful products in history. He arguably humbled the world's most powerful technology company, beating Microsoft at every turn in the personal consumer market. He guided us into a world we never imagined - until we glimpsed the glossy nirvana sparkling through the Apple Store windows. Steve Jobs' accomplishments shine brightly.

Yet something is still missing. Steve Jobs wasn't just an altruistic visionary bent on building a technology utopia. He was powerful and wealthy. He was a demanding and arguably tyrannical CEO. His company created arguably superior products at superlatively healthy margins. Under his watch, Apple was often embroiled in zealous patent lawsuits. And like any good CEO, Jobs unwaveringly worked to improve Apple's margins and cash coffers.


But where is the love in all that ambition, vision, zeal and ever-expanding margins? Sorry, but accomplishments motivated by anything but love are just pale shadows of existence. That's not philosophical mumbo jumbo - love is what makes life worth celebrating. No exceptions.

Love isn't just a cliche baked into romance movies and Harlequin novels. Real love motivates us to take action - action that's unconcerned with rewards or our "social responsibility" status. Real love never quits and never stops giving - even when our shareholders hiss for higher margins. Real love doesn't pander to greed, lust, gluttony or fear - even to outsell our competitors. Real love doesn't lie, cheat or steal - even when advised by corporate lawyers.


I mourn Steve Jobs death because every death is the sobering end of life and the opportunity to love. And when a life as rich with accomplishments as Steve Jobs' is cut short by cancer, there's no denying the crater of his absence. Yet I'm left comparing what I know about Jobs' life with the lives of those whose unnoticed existence are testaments to love in my life.

What I find is that no matter how furiously I sift through Steve Jobs' accomplishments, I'm left without the only accomplishment that ever matters - the ONLY accomplishment that could possibly deserve this deluge of grief.

Love.



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