Wednesday, October 26, 2011 – Revelations 3:23? I bought a copy of the Steve Jobs biography and turned to page 323. There was nothing of interest there. Then I turned to Chapter 3 and counted 23 paragraphs in, where I found an intriguing story. It told of Job’s strange relationship with the manipulative spiritual leader Robert Friedland. Apparently, Friedland ran a commune called All One Farm. It was an experiment in socialism. Socialism is a system of ownership where all the members of the community share in the work and the final product.
Jobs would spend weekends at the farm, seeking enlightenment and pruning the Gravenstein apple trees. According to the book, “’Steve ran the apple orchard,’ said Friedland. ‘We were in the organic cider business. Steve’s job was to lead a crew of freaks to prune the orchard and whip it back into shape.’”
The commune was supposed to be a refuge from materialism. Materialism is the belief that comfort, pleasure, and wealth were of highest importance. Friedland’s cult followers were told to chop and sell firewood, and to make apple presses and wood stoves, for which they were not paid. Jobs and the other workers soon became disenchanted; they missed their comforts and having independence and control over their own lives. One by one they left the apple farm.
Experiments in socialism throughout history have always failed, largely due to the leadership of self-serving men who did not respond to individual needs and did not reward the individuals adequately to succeed as a whole. Having learned valuable lessons about managing and motivating people, he was inspired to create a new model of social enterprise. His management philosophy led to the innovative culture and broad market reach that came to define Apple Computer.
The Wall Street Journal article ended with this conclusion about Jobs: “We will not soon see his like again. Let us hope that when we do, it is soon enough to help us deal with the troubles that this century, and every century, will bring.”
Apple’s advances in technology now connect individuals around the world more readily with one another. Apple ipads and iphones give their owners access the internet and its vast amounts of information, multiple messenging options, numerous social media sites and millions of products. The internet is a veritable “Tree of Knowledge,” and the beguiling serpent of temptation is the biology of addiction, arising from the overuse of such portable devices. As with alcohol, drug and gambling, such addiction this brings a lack of discernment, senseless spending and a disconnect with reality. Children and teens are especially susceptible, and research is showing that these devices interfere with healthy brain, social, emotional, spiritual and physical development.
Living in an overly busy, noisy world of information-overload, how can people possibly listen to their own intuition, recognize the wisdom of others and think for themselves? This will require individuals to make a conscious effort to step back from technology and seek moments of inactivity and silence, in order to be able to reflect on who they really are, reclaim their independence and regain control over their lives. There is a healthier balance to be found between people’s technological, material and spiritual lives. Furthermore, everyone holds the potential to connect with the spiritual forces waiting to provide the guidance that can empower humanity collectively. Indeed, humanity has the potential to reshape the world into one that benefits all beings. Moving through the Information Age, perhaps the next step in human evolution is awakening to such a reality.
One common theme among my Storywalker stories for children and parents is the idea of slowing down and finding time to rest in silence, so as to be able to hear both the inner and outer voices of Spirit and to reflect on what is heard.