This is possibly the most controversial blog posting I have created. It is not particularly poignant or well written. But, in some ways I hope it gets traction to further a conversation not happening. Of course, I can imagine the reaction, even from some of my progressive social justice oriented friends. Why? Because I am questioning one of their first loves and a VERY SACRED COW in the world in which I reside, something that (from tweets and facebook statuses) seems to take precedence over every other issue in their lives.
In fact, regarding this subject I was going to do one of my typically sardonic and immature satirical pieces in which I have Steve Jobs introducing the iPad to a pastor's conference saying it will cause people to read the Bible and do more for Christianity that anything since the printing press and Gutenberg Bible. But, I changed my mind and decided to be more pointed. It all came down this week because everyone was talking about Steve Jobs and his introduction of another gadget, as Bill Gates got no traction for his announcement of the aims of his foundation for 2010. Of course, while one will let us read books and surf the web in cool new ways, it won't save the life of a damn soul. The other just might.
So are my questions (and I say this as a household in which 3 iPods, 1 iPhone and an older Mac Book reside).
sure I am setting up a bit of a false dichotomy for my own selfish purposes
Why does our love of technology trump our love of Social justice? Why do we still vilify (to an extent) Bill Gates, going out of our way to dismiss him while treating Steve Jobs as the second coming of Jesus and every product he sells us for an inflated price as Gifts from the Magi?
Why do we skewer consumerism, especially in the church and amongst those we disagree with while acting like children following the Pied Piper of hyper-consumerism when it comes to technology?
Why do we hand our money to Steve Jobs and ask nothing about what he does with said money? Why don't we rush out to buy Microsoft products, even if they are not superior (and less cool) to Apple products? Have you seen how Bill Gates chooses to spend his money? Have you seen another person so hellbent on spending every penny he has for the betterment of the world around him?
So many people that talk about how america spends its money, how churches and corporations pend their money fall silent when the conversation turns to Apple vs. Microsoft. Why is that?
I heard an interview with Bill Gates from a few years ago in which he calls himself a "steward" over and over again, in which he said he plans to leave $100 million for each of his children and will spend the rest on trying to save the world from poverty, malnutrition, disease and lack for education. Sure, leaving his kids $100 million apiece sounds ridiculous to us, until we realize that is like a millionaire leaving each kid $10K.
In my search for Steve Jobs and Apple's charitable contributions I found very little. It is my hope that it is because he is a notoriously private man that gives away millions of dollars per year behind the scenes. Sadly, he has a reputation for giving very little away. Of course, Bill Gates reputation for giving is well deserved.
Look at this book of Steve Job's philanthropy (it is a joke, but there may be some reason it is out there)
Again, I am not questioning Steve Jobs, as much as I am asking which company deserves a little less grief from supporters of Social Justice issues that tell everyone to put their money where their mouth is in every area... besides the cool stuff we buy. I am questioning our commitment to put our money where our mouth is and to ask some questions of the maker of our most precious products.
I must say, in the end one will be remembered for what he did with what he was given more than he will be remembered for all the cool things he made (sounds almost Biblical). I have no idea about the other guy. But, I know which one I will be telling my grandkids about and hoping they emulate.
more on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation