Good personal legacies are hard to build

Have you given any serious thought to your legacy? I’m not talking about the material things you’ll leave behind, that relatives are subject to fight over, if you don’t leave a will. The legacy to which I’m referring consists of all things that comprise your reputation. Will people say good things about you after the funeral service and the repast have become history. I’ve written social media posts in the past about writing your story on life’s pages. That is, doing all the good things that will make it natural for people to talk about you in the most complimentary of terms. To be honest, I often wonder if it makes a difference how well we write. There always seems to be someone who dislike you regardless of how gregarious you may attempt to be. Some people are just lemons by nature.

We’re all, at some stage in life, set adrift in the sea of human interaction, expected to learn by trial and error how to get along. What did you do when you had your first encounter with that elementary school bully? Had anyone really given you any sound advice about how to negotiate your way through such a situation? Chances are some primordial instinct kicked into high gear; fright, flight, or attack. If you were able to handle yourself in such a manner that no violence occurred, and you and your nemesis walked away being the best of friends, years later stories would be told of just how diplomatically gifted you were.

I watch warriors on the battle field of politics regularly. I know they’re called politicians, not warriors. Come on isn’t the term politician more appropriate for a time long gone by? These people we elect to office now tend to start drawing first blood long before the first ballot is cast. The idea seems to be to paint the worse picture one can of your opponent, knowing that they will try to do the same. It seems that no matter how pristine a person’s reputation might be before she decides to enter politics, one campaign just might turn them into one of the most foul and un-trustworthy creatures on the planet. I often wonder if the truly trustworthy of qualified people, who would be great at service as a politician, choose to not subject themselves to the political shooting gallery we see in operation today.

Okay, let’s say you’ve been a sterling student throughout all your years of schooling. You’ve also been a faithful servant to family, church, community, doing all you can to lay a solid foundation upon which you can build a good reputation. There just might be someone out there, who will throw some dirt your way, not because there’s dirt to be thrown, but because envy has soured their opinion of you. I’ve heard of people experiencing this kind of assault within their church group. This should be the one place where individual achievement should result in group accolades.

Though good personal legacies might be hard to build, I recall a quote from Mother Teresa that sets the model for how best to build them:

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Do all you can to build a good legacy and let God be the finisher.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

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