On September 4th, 2006 the world lost a good man. I’m talking about Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter. A public memorial service was held for him today, September 20th, 2006, at the Australia Zoo and broadcast on Animal Planet. I cried. I remember the morning of September 4th when my wife pulled up the news on Yahoo! and she gasped. There it was in black an white “Steve Irwin Killed”. I could not believe it, it was wrong, they must have gotten it wrong! He can’t be dead I thought, that’s just not fair dammit! I cried on that day too.
Why am I writing this? Did I know Steve? Why would I shed tears for a person I never even met or knew personally? These are actually pretty easy questions to answer. First because Steve was a father, and second because he was a great man! I cried for his wife Terri because I know how I would feel if I lost my wife or a family member. But more than anything I cried for his children, and especially his daughter Bindi. Steve’s little girl was the light of his life, and to her Steve was her hero and most important, her Daddy. But now Steve is gone, taken from Bindi, Robert, and Terri in an instant. There is nothing you can say to Steve’s family, no words to ease the pain, no person who could possibly replace Steve in their lives. I wish Steve was alive; not for the sake of the rest of the world as the Crocodile Hunter, but just to be the great father, husband, and son that he was to his family.
Few people in this world manage to touch people in such a way as Steve did. He was genuine and passionate, and it came through in everything he did. He created a feeling in people that made them better, that made them want to be like him, that made them want to help the world in their own way. The feeling is universally known as love. Steve Irwin is loved around the world by people young and old and he will truly be missed.
After Steve’s death, I started thinking about my own life. The one thing Steve and I have in common was that we are both fathers, and like Steve, my children are my greatest personal achievement. Professionally however, I have achieved nothing. Like most of the people on this planet, I run around from day to day in my own little world worrying about things that matter so little in the grand scheme of things that it is almost criminal. In a mere 44 years Steve Irwin, one man, managed to change the thoughts, feelings, and lives of millions of people and actually make a real difference in the world; a difference that made the world a better place.
Look at this web site, the programs and software on it, this unkept journal, my 23+ years of programming knowledge and experience consolidated into a little insignificant spot in a non-tangible digital world of mostly useless misinformation and unsolicited garbage. Steve probably did not have much use for a computer and I doubt he spent endless hours or days in front of one, yet he managed to do over a million times more good for the world. Steve’s knowledge and research was real, mine is arcane and only slightly useful to a select few, and certainly could not be called research or discovery. The work I do helps very few, and those that it does help, well, it just helps them run around in their own little world. There is no love, there is no passion, my children are not getting knowledge and experience to carry with them. The world is outside, outside our schedules, routines, and day to day nonsense that consumes us.
So what really matters? That next blockbuster movie, designer clothing, video game console, trip to Maui, new car with leather seats, getting the latest cell phone, 200 all digital TV channels?? What does any of this matter, really? The human race spent the last 20,000 years as hunters and gatherers, simply trying to survive. Then, in a relatively short period of time we have managed to create technology to relieve us from having to search for food and shelter, so for the first time in human history we now find ourselves with spare time we have never had. And how do we decide to use that time? Poorly, in my opinion. Except for people like Steve Irwin, who, instead of sitting around playing video games or worrying about his cell phone ring tone, went out into the world and touched millions with something real, and managed to entertain and educate us at the same time. He unselfishly gave us his passion, love, time, knowledge, and now his life, so the world could be a better place for us to live in.
Goodbye Steve Irwin, we are going to miss you!