The power of acknowledgement
New York City authorities have noticed a rise in attacks on teenagers by other teenagers who want to steal their iPods and cellphones. An assault last week in Brooklyn resulted in the murder of a 15-year-old, Christopher Rose, who was stabbed twice in the chest. The fight started with a demand for an iPod.
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer (the maker of iPod) asked one of his assistants to find Christopher’s father’s phone number. Mr. Jobs called Mr. Rose on his cellphone. He asked how he was doing and conveyed his sympathies. “He told me that he understood my pain,” Mr. Rose said. “Some people talk to you like they’re something remote. He was so familiar. After every word, he paused, as if each word he said came from his heart. He told me that if there is anything—anything—he could do, to not be afraid to call him. It really lightened me a bit.” (Synopsis based on, and exact quotes taken from, article by Kareem Fahim, “Apple Executive Calls Family of Teenager Killed for IPod,” New York Times 7/6/05)
When contacted by the Times, Mr. Job’s office refused to comment. The implication was that Mr. Jobs did not want to exploit his spontaneous deed of human empathy in order to gain publicity for himself.
The generous heart of a grieving father
“In the days following his son’s death, Mr. Rose has spoken of finding meaning in his son’s misfortune, and of working to help teenagers like the ones who attacked his son…‘We live in a world which is changing rapidly. We have the technology that can give us the iPod…but we have to work on the minds and the hearts. We’re failing these kids. We’re not loving them like we’re supposed to.’” (same article)
Maybe Mr. Jobs and Mr. Rose together can start a program. Maybe the churches—God enabling us—can find more ways to reach out to young people whose lives are so deprived that they think an iPod is more valuable than another person’s life. Maybe more people (men especially) can become mentors for rootless young people.