It’s strange to me that I can be so impacted by the death of someone that I do not know.
For example, when Madeline L’Engle died a few years ago, I cried and cried. I felt like I had lost the dearest friend. I have read many of L’Engle’s books, including those autobiographical ones where she details her writing life, marriage, and the death of her mother. I justified these deep emotions to myself because I had spent so many hours with her through her books. I really felt like I knew her and I knew that the world was a lesser place without her calm wisdom.
But why have I shed tears for Steve Jobs? I don’t know him. I hardly know any details or facts about his life and yet, here I am, crying for the loss of a man I do not know.
Maybe it’s just that I like to think I knew him. I believed he was a visionary–a man of rare genius who could not only lead a team to create phenomenal new things–but treat that team fairly, kindly, and–dare I say it–humanely. That’s a rare thing in industry: to care about the people and the product. Maybe care about these things more than the profit. Of course the profit followed for Jobs, but perhaps it was because he place the other things first.
At least that’s how it seems on the outside. Who knows? I never knew Steve Jobs. But to all the millions of us who did not know him, he stood for these things and in corporate America that’s such a rare thing, it’s worth celebrating.