There is clearly a disturbance in the force today, this week, this year. Earlier tonight, the news from around the world was startling and unsettling.
First, Steve Jobs, one year older than me, died today. This man changed the world.
He wasn’t always a success, he wasn’t always famous or popular, he was even at one point, ousted from the company he founded by a new company president that he personally recruited.
He was Bill Gates’ biggest competitor and for many years, many in the corporate world felt him to be less. Yet, Steve Jobs simply pursued his vision, his passion and created for us technological marvels that have changed our society.
For better or worse, Jobs made history over and over again. And I believe his best character trait and what made his life so successful was his authenticity.
I have read about and studied Steve Jobs throughout his career. He was always on the fringe until he made the fringe the mainstream. People around the world followed his lead as if he were Ghandi or Buddha. He clearly had a spiritual air about him, this scientist, this dreamer. If Jobs taught me anything is that it doesn’t matter if people disagree with you, ridicule you, try to copy or compete with you. What matters is to know who you are, be comfortable with your dreams and vision, regardless of outside forces and be true to values and principles that simply make you who you are.
The other news today, not anywhere near as sad as the passing of Steve Jobs, but equally interesting is the Wall Street protests that are now spawning other national protests. Hordes of people are gathering on the streets to simply let others – the billionaires on wall street, the government and people who supposedly hold power, let them know that we have had enough.
Recently one of the republican talking points has been calling out the President on starting class warfare. At the surface, it is just silliness and hollow, because the right wing conservatives have always been about some kind of warfare, especially between the classes and between hetero and homosexuals, between the genders, between citizens and immigrants…I can go on but you get the point. There is a war brewing and it is no longer in distant lands but it is ending up here.
This moment of upheaval is caused by many of our frustrations because we feel that by now we should have learned to live better. One would think after all this time, we would have learned to live more harmoniously, to find ways to share the wealth of the world with others and to build a global society so that everyone could prosper. I feel a particular solidarity with all those people on the streets in New York and elsewhere. Even though they do not have one clear, concise message, I feel the energy of the movement that simply says that each of us matters. There is enough room on this earth for us all to live in peace and prosperity. Yet, it seems so many things we do, try to make that an impossible dream.
The 10 year war in Afghanistan continues to make the national news, yet in a significant Pew Research study out today, it reports that less than 10% of Americans don’t even follow the war. What startles is that this is the biggest daily expense of every American yet we turn our heads and ignore this hard fought war that will never be won. At least not by us. The same research reported that about a third of the soldiers really don’t understand why they are fighting. And civilians like me do not understand why it is that people who volunteer to serve our country come home to no job, no home and no adequate healthcare. 28% of the troops surveyed said they joined the military because it was the only job they could get.
We should be in a state of upheaval. Our country is more than in a bad mood, we are in a bad state of believing that we can no longer get ahead let alone stay ahead. More people than ever in our history are struggling day to day.
This does not have to be this way. We can turn this upheaval into a new revolution of our spirit. Rather than feeling defeated by “the powers that be,” it is our duty to remove those from power who do not represent us. It is our duty to not wait for someone to give us a job but to create jobs on our own. It is our duty to feed those who are hungry and house the homeless.
We are in a time of upheaval for certain. Yet, we must learn from those before us, from our history, even if it isn’t being taught in schools: that people have prospered when they have followed their visions, when they have been authentic, when they have created things not just for themselves but for others.
A lot of people tried to hold Steve Jobs back. Tried to defeat him. Steve Jobs won. And when he did so did we. His spirit and his authenticity must now live within us. It is our time to be creative and to change the world…because after all it is our world to change. And if we don’t survive this upheaval, it is only because we did not try.