What does the passing of a genius mean for the rest of us? / by David Hu

Today the death of an influential man sent shocks around the world. Inevitably, every news outlet went quickly to work dissecting his career, his work (or more significantly, his "legacy"), and the "sadness" felt by his fans, his company and employees, and his successor. A news show even brought in a doctor to recount and explain the history of this man's particular disease. In the faster moving world of blog-news, there seemed to be a race to fill their websites with numerous infographics about stock prices and product releases, memorable quotes, and Top 10's of every kind. And the analysis was then followed by, again inevitably, guesswork about the future prospects of his company. This predictable, methodical process would undoubtedly be repeated for many days to come. But what a disservice this all is to the man whose death we are supposedly mourning and whose life meant so much more than the individual achievements and the well-being of his company.

If we were to truly pay respect to the man, we should mourn the loss of the single most valuable thing he gave to the world: his genius. To be in receipt of the work of a genius is secondary to being a living witness to a genius at work. If Leonardo da Vinci lived and died in our world today, we wouldn't mourn the the fact that he invented an unworkable helicopter, nor analyze the monetary value of the Mona Lisa, nor lament the likelihood that no one else would quite again capture the brilliance of the Last Supper. We would mourn the fact that the rarity of a genius has come and gone, the potential of seeing more wonders cut short, and all that talent born to one person have also left with him. Those who lived in the times of great musicians and artists have the rare opportunity to enjoy their gifts, their personalities, their humanity--and experience their work as personal memories, not simply legacies. That is what we have lost today. Generations from now will still remember his work and feel his impact, but they won't be able to enjoy the knowledge of being his contemporary nor wonder, "What's he going to do next?"

Today's world is at a severe lack of people whose innate genius and motivation are perfectly matched to bring inspiration at a global scale--precisely at a time when the world needs it the most. The unrivaled curiosity and drive to explore and understand the world--even in the face of innumerable obstacles and criticisms--are what makes a genius dear and important to the times that he lives in. Today, we mourn the loss of a man's rare passion for excellence, his contagious love for and dedication to his work, and his unwavering belief that he was contributing to making the world — and life — better for everyone.