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Can Steve Jobs Be Remembered Forever?

September 3, 2011

This article was written on September 3, 2011 - Steve Jobs was alive. On October 5, 2011 Steve Jobs passed away. I think there's an important message here - so I'm not going to back and edit the article. His passing reminds us of a message that he gave himself at a Stanford speech - we are all going to die. His thoughts were about what we do with this life. Mine are about the next life.

Two weeks ago I wrote the piece on Can we be remembered forever? Then Steve Jobs retires (again). I know - he's not dead - he only retired. But still - there's all this talk about how he changed the way we do things forever - with the iPhone / iPod / iPad / iWhatever.

The intent here is not to bash him - not to make light of what he has done -
but to look at what he has done strictly in the light of that last article.

One of the things that was pointed out was the question as to whether people actually even remember the way things really happened - like Edison and the phonograph.

The current / latest thing for Steve Jobs & Apple is clearly the iPad. Totally changed the way we do things. I have one - and for some things it really is a great device - especially for reading / web surfing / being able to carry around easily and go to a coffee shop.

But - did he really come up with the idea? While Apple is suing others - like Samsung - for copying the idea - it's also true that 2001 A Space Odyssey had tablet devices - and what about those little tablets Spock, Uhuru and others carried around on the bridge of the Enterprise in the Star Trek TV series. Both of these were before the iPad. Legal issues aside - there is still this question of who actually came up with the idea first. Clearly - Apple actually made it work. Not so clearly - did they really invent it?

At any rate - it's likely going to be remembered that way - just like Edison gets so much credit for things that others had done before / after him - because that's the way we are. We remember what we "learn" - and what we "learn" isn't always completely factual.

For those of us in the IT field - there are also some not so nice things that we know about - like the factories in China where people commit suicide at such a high rate - where chemicals were used that are dangerous for the workers and have caused health issues - not to mention that so many jobs were sent overseas to China in the first place.

It's not all good. But that's part of the way we are too. If someone's seen as "good" - the bad tends to be forgotten. If someone's seen as "bad" - the good tends to be forgotten. At least until someone starts a crusade to change public opinion.

The reality is - people have some of both. Other than Jesus - no human can truthfully claim they were 100% good.

So - will Steve Jobs be remembered forever?

More specifically - will he be remembered forever because of the iPhone / iPod / iPad?

For the devices themselves - as much as some will disagree with me - I have to say no, he won't be.

I'm old enough to have had a record collection (33 1/3 and 45's ) - an 8-track collection - a cassette collection - a CD collection - and now my MP3 collection (to play on my iPod and iPad).

How many of you - or your kids / grand kids used these - or even know what they were? But at the time - they were all like the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Sorry - but that's just the way it is.

Some day - someone's going to grow up and ask their parents - "What's an iPad?"

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.

Sounds a lot like Steve Jobs and the iPad.
This could be a quote from a Samsung lawyer - arguing that the concept for tablet computers was around long before the iPad.

But - it's not.

It's a quote from a very wise man - the author of Proverbs -
under the name Qoheleth, from Ecclesiastes 1:9-11.

Now that you know where it came from - some will say it's because Ecclesiastes is a super depressing book by a really depressed man who thinks life is pointless anyway.

And with that in mind - let's keep going and see what he says in Ecc 6:10-12 --

Ecc 6:10 Whatever exists has already been named,

and what man is has been known;

no man can contend

with one who is stronger than he.

Ecc 6:11 The more the words,

the less the meaning,

and how does that profit anyone?

Ecc 6:12 For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?

Yes - more bad news.

Not only will Steve Jobs not be remembered for ever "under the sun" - he won't even know whether or not he's remembered after he does die.

How depressing is that?

But - check out the 1st 5 verses of chapter 12 -

Ecc 12:1 Remember your Creator

in the days of your youth,

before the days of trouble come

and the years approach when you will say,

“I find no pleasure in them”—

Ecc 12:2 before the sun and the light

and the moon and the stars grow dark,

and the clouds return after the rain;

Ecc 12:3 when the keepers of the house tremble,

and the strong men stoop,

when the grinders cease because they are few,

and those looking through the windows grow dim;

Ecc 12:4 when the doors to the street are closed

and the sound of grinding fades;

when men rise up at the sound of birds,

but all their songs grow faint;

Ecc 12:5 when men are afraid of heights

and of dangers in the streets;

when the almond tree blossoms

and the grasshopper drags himself along

and desire no longer is stirred.

Then man goes to his eternal home

and mourners go about the streets.

If you want to - you can focus on the middle portions - they're certainly depressing enough.

And then Qoheleth goes on to say -

Ecc 12:6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,

or the golden bowl is broken;

before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,

or the wheel broken at the well,

Ecc 12:7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from,

and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Ecc 12:8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.

“Everything is meaningless!”

“Everything is meaningless!”

It just keeps getting more & more depressing!

Or does it?

Look at the beginning -

Remember your Creator

And look at the end -

Then man goes to his eternal home

and mourners go about the streets.

While we're alive - we mourn the dead.

When we die - we go to our eternal home.

So what's really meaningless?

If we remember our Creator -
if we live like He wants us to
(which Qoheleth also talks about)
then we go to our eternal home - with our Creator.

That doesn't sound depressing - or meaningless at all.

That sounds great!

At least it does as long as we actually do remember our Creator and live as He wants us to.

But what do we tend to do?

We tend to mourn when "good" people die -
and we almost celebrate when "evil" people die.

Think about what that actually means -

We tend to mourn when people go to Heaven -
and we almost celebrate when evil people go to Hell.

Now that's meaningless!

So - in the end - will Steve Jobs be remembered forever?

Here on earth - "under the sun" - no.

In the eternal home -

I don't have a clue for those who end up going to Hell.

For those who have used his inventions in certain ways - like reading the Bible on their iPhone or iPad - they may very well remember him forever - because the things he gets the credit for inventing may very well have played some role in helping bring someone to a relationship with God. Not because Steve Jobs intended it to be that way (he may or may not have) - but because God can use us and the things we do to meet His goals.

An iPad could be used for video games that distract people from their Creator.
That same iPad can just as easily bring someone to their creator.

The iPad itself isn't good or bad - it's what we choose to do with it.

What's really interesting is that for all the talk about Steve Jobs being remembered forever - it centers on the things he did for Apple - and it's "under the sun".

If there's anyone likely to actually remember Steve Jobs forever - it's more likely to be for those who used his devices to study and learn about their creator - and they'll be "with the Son".

Will you be remembering Steve Jobs - forever?