A legacy is defined as something that is handed down and left for the next and future generations. A legacy can be an inheritance, such as money and land. A legacy can also be something much more significant, such as a positive impact on society that leads to a more successful and rewarding one. It can also be something more tragic, such as debt and slavery that continues to shackle those left behind with the consequences of those who went before.
Throughout history, legacies have been left. Some for good; others for worse. The men who fought for and led in the rise of what is the United States of America left an indelible imprint on the future that we experience today. The democratic experience was new when the United States was founded and it continues to be a grand experiment when compared to the thousands of years of history found in other nations around the globe. And yet, in our infancy, the legacy of this country continues to leave a lasting imprint worldwide.
The question, then, is: What kind of legacy are we now leaving? As a nation, are we leaving a legacy of hope and inspiration? Are we crafting a future that will continue to inspire and embolden society to seek the greater good and make a difference in the world? These are questions that remain and the fact that the questions even have to be asked should terrify each one of us.
A Legacy of Doubt
At the time of this writing, we seem to be crafting a legacy of doubt. We live in desperate times and in people are hurting, seeking resolution to their pain.
Government has failed us. We have leaders who are locked in financial arrangements with individual and corporate donors that shape political decisions, not often for the greater good. We have a political system that is devolving into political strife, inaction and negativity. While words are spoken that indicate a commitment to seeking real solutions, the actions of those leaders speak volumes that indicate otherwise.
Corporate America has taken advantage of men and women in too many ways. At a time when profits are at an all-time high among the Fortune 500 and Wall Street continues it climb to all new heights, the American worker struggles to survive financially. The Middle Class, as we’ve traditionally known it, no longer exists for all practical purposes. Incomes are stagnant and wages that are paid are paid not paid fairly. When a woman works for seventy-three cents compared to that of her male counter-part, something is wrong. When individuals struggle financially and are forced to work two and sometimes three jobs to meet their budget demands, something doesn’t feel right.
Racial division and strife are rampant in our world. When those in authority, such as the police, abdicate their role as peace keepers and, instead racially profile and abuse their roles, something is dreadfully wrong. When individuals, although not provoked, seek to question and challenge simple requests simply out of arrogance, tensions rise and spill over to greater, more deadly consequences.
Individual accountability is lacking, leading to a dissatisfied community. Rather than accept personal responsibility to live and operate, too many put their future in the hands of others. As a result, we are developing a legacy of disarray and hopelessness. The cries of our future children and grand-children can already be heard.
Something must be done.
It Doesn’t have to be This Way!
In spite of the negative climate, there is hope. Within each individual, including you and me, lie the seeds of greatness. In spite of the challenges we face, each one of us have a unique opportunity to make a difference.
When we leave our future and our hope in the hands of others, we empower them to do as they will. But the human design is not created that way. We’ve been endowed with purpose and intention. We contain the resources to choose a better, more empowering way.
But it begins with individual accountability and responsibility.
It begins with you and me.
We must resolve to craft our own legacy that we will hand down to future generations. It must be a legacy that tells our future selves that we matter, that they matter. Hopelessness and helplessness is not the norm. There is a great hope for the future if we allow it to shine brightly and boldly. But it begins with the only legacy that matters.