While surfing the web, I came across this idea on legacy: “…. legacy counts for little: the vast majority of us will be forgotten and our works with us.”
That quotation got me to thinking about each of our legacies. Legacy is what we leave behind when we die. Even if we are forgotten and our work along with us, legacy remains. You see, legacy is not just how we are remembered. In addition, and most importantly, legacy is what actually remains from our actions here on earth—whether what is left is attributed to us or not.
In blog posts at the International Forgiveness Institute, Inc. I sometimes discuss anger in Northern Ireland, an anger that has lasted since the late 17th century. No one today can pinpoint who it was that started all of this anger that lives on. Yet, it lives on. It is real and it was started by some who left it here on this earth when they died.
I think love shares this with anger: It, too, can be our legacy that lives on long after we are gone, and it can exist apart from anyone ever connecting our love back to us.
Does legacy count for little? Look at the legacy of anger in countries torn by strife for centuries. Even though we cannot name the originators, the legacy is profound and not in a good way.
Does legacy count for little? Think of even one time in which one of your parents gave you legitimate love that stayed in your heart. If you can pass that to even one other heart and then it is passed on to another heart, does this count for little?
Anger, especially unhealthy anger that is deep and persistent, can be eliminated by your acts of forgiving those who have been unjust to you, who have caused you pain. The pain, when it is not addressed, can lead to anger and when this is not addressed, it can turn to the unhealthy kind of anger that spews forth to our loved ones, especially to the most vulnerable among us---our children. And our children, once they inherit the anger, are at-risk for passing it to their children. I hope you see that not only you need to know about and practice forgiveness but also your children need this knowledge, too, so that they can halt the march of anger down through the generations.
Forgiveness stops the spread of anger within individuals and it stops its spread across historical time. Further, forgiveness can create more love in damaged hearts so that the love is passed to the children, who now might pass the love to their children.
What will be your legacy? Do not be concerned if your name is not in lights 200 years from now. Be very concerned that you have the opportunity today to start a pattern of love that goes from heart to heart to heart…even if you and your works are long forgotten.
Legacy can be profound and in a very positive way. Start your legacy today. Consider forgiving those who want you to inherit anger and then pass forgiveness on to others. Consider forgiveness as a loving act within your family. Love someone deeply enough that the love abides in that heart….and lives on.