None of us know what the world will be like in 50 years and most can’t even imagine it. Will we even care then what legacy we have left behind us? I hope so!
Those of us alive even less than 50 years ago have seen astonishing changes in medicine, technology, and transportation to mention just a few areas. A simple example from a few days ago: I had to visit one of my employer’s administrative offices, one that has a very large parking area. On the way I passed several “half-cars” as I call them, the ones that look as though only the front half of a car is moving forward, like someone forgot to put the car’s pants on before it left the garage.
But as I turned from locking my mundane, old sedan to start my hike across the parking lot to the building itself, I laughed in surprise as a security officer zipped past on his Segway®. As the Segway company logo says, Simply moving. Maximum speed of the Segway is 12.5 mph, much faster than my somewhat grumpy and plodding pace.
Ethics Have Not Kept Up
Unfortunately, the ethics of many marvelous discoveries, especially in medicine and technology, lag far behind their development. Leaders in many fields simply haven’t figured out yet how to handle the monumental responsibilities or the many environmental pollutions of such progress. What additional changes are next while they continue wrestling with the ethical side of the changes of the past 50 years, including destruction of our oceans?
The way medicine treats disease in 50 years will make our current surgeries and regimens seem barbaric by comparison. In spite of thousands of dedicated researchers and caring physicians, many treatments are highly toxic to healthy cells in our bodies. But then you see pictures of medical “instruments” from the past — particularly those used on women — that were nothing other than torture from the bowels of hell itself. And in unenlightened areas of the world, sickening practices are still going on. We who live in first world countries are very blessed.
I know God allows human beings their free agency, to prove whether or not they will do good or do evil while on this earth. I don’t pretend to understand why a merciful God has allowed hideous things to happen to the innocent just because they were born in a different time and place. Yes, we earned our time and place on earth because of how well we obeyed God in the pre-mortal existence but sometimes that simple answer doesn’t cover everything. Whatever His reason, our foremothers and our distant cousins in the human family deserve the highest rewards that Heaven can hold.
What Do You Want Your Legacy to Be?
My wish is that everyone I reach would consider what they want their legacy to be:
- In 50 years, what do you really want to be remembered for, ladies and gentlemen? Will the office crowd silently cheer as you are lowered into the ground, or will they openly weep because you always treated the janitor with the same respect you treated Mr. and Mrs. Muckety-Muck?
- Do you really want to be remembered as the person who made life miserable for everyone you met? Or would they remember a warm smile except on days when you were truly ill? Does ripping to shreds your co-workers or the improperly trained grocery clerks really boost your faltering ego or give you a high? If it does, perhaps a hefty kick in the pants would do more good for you, and the further down the hill to hell you roll, the better.
- Fifty years from now, is anyone going to care that you saved your employer two million dollars because of the hard-working lives and families you destroyed during your hatchet work? Two million dollars that the company had to triple just to undo your damage when the next retired football player rampaged through the business, tripping over the false premises your decisions were based on? They can never rebuild the ruined lives.
Does It Really Matter?
We are all here to help people in whatever large or small way we can, not destroy them. But that doesn’t mean we’re the receptacles for other people’s personal neuroses, treatable psychoses, or other nutcase behavior. OCDs and Type A’s, take special note: It probably doesn’t matter! And in the few cases where it does matter: Hire enough people; Train them; Stay out of their way while they do the work they know how to do.
Fifty years from now, will the epitaph on your tombstone be something like one of these?
- Lived only for Fame and Glory
- His Greed Destroyed the Family
- Always Focused on the Bottom Line
- Lived Only for Herself
Or will it say something like this?
- A Kind and Gentle Soul
- An Honest Lifetime of Service
- His Enemies Were Few
- Did Not Suffer Fools
I hope everyone realizes that the wake we’re leaving behind us is just as important as the bow wave on either side of us. I hope we consider daily whether what we’re doing now will matter in 50 years.