Legacy by Tim Belber (Trust 30 Prompt 23)
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
- One definition of legacy is what someone feels, thinks and says when they hear your name. What are you doing today to build the legacy you want?
I've been thinking a lot about legacy lately. At the Power of Women event I attended earlier this month, Loretta LaRoche mentioned something about how we're all going to die, flat bellied or otherwise, so why don't we spend the time we have here enjoying our lives AND doing something worth being remembered for.
And then I woke up this morning to the Twitterverse mourning the loss of Jack Layton. It's not an unexpected loss, really, though it was one none of us wanted to see coming. Mr. Layton had fought and won so many fights that despite the evidence of his failing health, despite the cane he carried on the campaign trail and the hint of fatigue behind the twinkle in his blue eyes. Despite his taking a leave of absence to fight a second battle with cancer. We wanted to believe he'd win this one as well.
I wanted to believe.
Not because I'm particularly attached to his politics, though since the Liberals slid to the right under Paul Martin the NDP has been my political party of choice (how odd for me to talk politics, but it is a remarkable day). I wanted to believe because of who Jack Layton was. It was Jack Layton personally that stirred millions - including me - to the NDP message. His courage. His integrity. His passion. A political party is just a set of ideologies - Jack Layton was a person with a commitment and the will to see it through.
In light of all my thoughts about legacy - who do I want to be remembered as? - Mr. Layton's legacy is a shining example. I'm reading the tributes coming in on the news sites - tributes from ordinary Canadians. From party members. From leaders of opposing parties. A surprisingly human tribute from the Prime Minister. And they say the same things over and over - Jack Layton was a man of integrity. Of compassion. That despite his commitment to making a difference in Canada via a political life, his family was of utmost importance to him. He built bridges. He fought brave fights.
Jack Layton knew he was losing his fight. On Saturday he wrote a loving farewell letter to Canadians - a letter that brims with courage and compassion. He leaves us with this final thought, which I'm sure I won't be alone in wanting to adopt as my own guidepost:
My friends, love is better than anger.
Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair.
So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we’ll change the world.
Thank you, Mr. Layton. For being the very model - not of a politician or even a Canadian - but of a life well lived and a legacy worth leaving.