I have taken advantage of the ubiquitous nature of money to allow this column on spending to lead me (and you) down many paths. This time, my link is the many dollars spent on Apple products over the past several years.
The death of Steve Jobs was personal for me because it was the death of my son’s hero. 9-year old boys have long had heroes: superheroes, sports stars, rock musicians, but mine locked on to Steve Jobs and all that he created.
I know he has plenty of company; in fact, Apple folks refer to this crowd as “fan boys” because there are so many.
Though lots of ink (including the virtual kind) has been spent on Jobs’ contributions and though my son’s grief isn’t singular, I write this today because I think the national sadness over his loss symbolizes something greater. I think it’s been a long time since America had the feeling that Steve Jobs gave us: the feeling that we are ahead of the curve, that we have ideas first, that we make things better.
During these dull, gray, difficult recessionary years, Apple has been a bright spot not only in its earnings but in symbolizing what America has always believed of itself. And that’s reinforced by Steve Jobs’ own story of reinvention after being fired from Apple and coming back to build a powerhouse.
In mourning his death are we also mourning our vision of our nation? Because Jobs died with presumably so much more to give are we suffering also because we fear this great country’s potential has been cut short?
If this is true and I believe it is, Steve Jobs’ legacy goes well beyond the many deserving adjectives used to memorialize him. He can live on in our hearts, thoughts and devices as more than a visionary; he can be a call to attention, if not a call to action.
As a country, we can use our grief over his demise to look not just for the next genius on the horizon, but at how we encourage innovation. America is now bowed by unemployment and fear of the future. We can take the bright spot that is Apple and was Jobs and move forward beyond what feels like a downward spiral of creativity and prosperity.
How can we do this? I’m far from an economist (just ask my long-ago professors) so I’m going to leave it to the many great minds in the Chapelboro community. How can we use the loss of a genius to – quite plainly- regain our mojo?
Does it happen with the very young in our schools? How?
Can it still happen in someone’s garage?
What role do banks play? Wall Street?
Closer to home, what about universities? Check out Innovate@Carolina. Will this be the launchpad for our next American hero?
Okay, all you smart people reading this, please leave some ideas below to continue this dialogue. Or write to me at email@example.com
Steve Jobs did not believe in doing nothing and letting tough times dog him. Let both his life and his death be a galvanizing lesson.