No matter how many years we spend on this planet, they ultimately become a fleeting shadow fading into human history. We may marvel at the centenarian without fully grasping their influence and impact. Leaving a legacy is a consideration often running through our minds while the fear of being forgotten is troubling and distressing.
There is no minimum age requirement for when this notion begins to percolate in your thoughts. However, it does appear to happen more frequently the older one gets. It may be inherent in our DNA, or may reflect a slight selfish desire to leave part of ourselves behind – which in this instance, is not necessarily a terrible premise.
Regardless of what the aspiration for leaving your legacy is, the actions and motives affecting your day-to-day lives are what ultimately determines what your legacy is.
There is a distinct difference between being remembered and being well known. Fame or celebrity is not what leaves a lasting impression on the future of the human race. It is often the insights of a grandparent or a “seasoned” citizen imparting wisdom and altering the course of impressionable lives. These conversations are rarely planned. It’s as though the circumstances beckoned the elder’s experience and intuition to enlighten the younger, yet never fully comprehending the tremendous influence those words would permanently render.
In most cases the motivation which sparked those transforming words was none other than love itself.
Love, and nothing less, should be the determining influence in every aspect of our legacy. As discussed in my previous two articles, its definition is wide-ranging and covers a multitude of positive emotions. The simplest and most convincing way to become immersed in it is to begin practicing it at the earliest age possible.
No one, short of an inherently corrupt individual, would disagree with the premise that love is the most important goal we can have and share. It has been the subject of countless essays from philosophers, sermons, songs, poems, paintings, and more. It has always been heralded as not only vital but imperative. The most famous passage about love from the Bible states that even if one had the power to move mountains, predict the future, give away a fortune; without love it would all be entirely futile.
When love becomes the foundation of your life, it will automatically be the embodiment of your legacy. Embrace it and it won’t let you down. Expand its meaning and it will increase how others perceive you. Use it both as a weapon and a shield; it will never leave you defenseless.
With so many benefits love eagerly awaits to bestow upon us, it only makes sense for it to constantly be the preferred choice. But choosing love is not easy. Upholding its virtues is far too demanding and requires enormous discipline. Unfortunately, it is too often readily cast aside – especially by those who ought to be brandishing it the most.
Love is not a sign of weakness, although many employ this interpretation strictly as an excuse not to wield it. However, not choosing love forces one to utilize methods which directly contradict it – dividing, demeaning, and utterly destroying any hope of reconciliation and understanding.
Love can only beget positive outcomes. Kindness, generosity, compassion, and an entire barrage of constructive and encouraging outcomes are love’s legacy. Deciding against employing these actions as a strategy is typically indicative of extremely selfish desires and a lack of self-confidence. Utilizing animosity is but a tool to cover up greed and self-seeking desires. It indicates a complete disregard for anyone who does not pander to you and the horrific lack of concern for anyone outside your petty circle.
Resorting to bashing and name calling is a whitewash for a multitude of egocentric, venal, and narcissistic demands. Love heals. Employing its antithesis is akin to picking at a scab or worse, purposely stripping away any chance for healing to occur.
We must remedy the current absence of defaulting to love by committing to the hard work and always choosing it for ourselves. We must not wait for its popularity to rise but rather be the ones who raise it up. We can applaud those who choose its power and speak out against individuals who refuse to see its worth.
None of this is easy but we all have a part to play. I have stopped myself on many occasions from railing against people with radically different political views from mine. As tempting as it is to fire back with more blistering and clever barbs than they shot, fanning the flames does nothing to unite and will ultimately create more damage and discord.
Whether the views you protect are political, religious, cultural, or education-related; if in your opinion, there is no room for listening to an alternative voice, you very well may be part of the problem. We don’t win an argument by telling someone how ignorant they are. We can’t convince someone their views are wrong because of clever quips or name calling. We will never be able to unite while at the same time engaging in repulsive behaviors.
It may be tempting to resort to the tactics others have used on you but if you can refrain and choose love, you’ll be enriching you and those who will always appreciate and treasure the person you are.
The world is experiencing many challenges, difficulties, and struggles. While it may be impossible to reach across the globe, you can always choose love and be the change this world needs.
A true legacy is not how many people remember you, but how your memory is cherished. How your loved changed the lives of those who were blessed to know you.
My thanks to Marco Mons on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments. If you enjoyed this article, I hope you will take the time to sign in and like it. I would really appreciate it.