Why should we care what our legacy might be after we have died? After all, we will have passed into oblivion, or on to a remotely possible Heaven, from which we don’t have any effects on this world’s happenings. All our cares should be limited to the here and now, and even the thoughts of a happier world for our children and their children should be limited to what we feel and do in the present moment.
How you want to be remembered becomes a question of the people you know, or at minimum the people who knew you from afar, or online. This limitation means those people must be alive to appreciate you and your qualities, and after they die even that modest legacy dies too. Or, as Shakespeare said, his writings were the better part of him and would live on.
Shakespeare – Sonnet 74:
But be contented: when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away,
My life hath in this line some interest,
Which for memorial still with thee shall stay.
When thou reviewest this, thou dost review
The very part was consecrate to thee:
The earth can have but earth, which is his due;
My spirit is thine, the better part of me:
So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life,
The prey of worms, my body being dead,
The coward conquest of a wretch’s knife,
Too base of thee to be remembered.
The worth of that is that which it contains,
And that is this, and this with thee remains.
But, I would contend, why not keep living rather than transfer some future portion of life to the luck of the ever-evolving world? Why not stay here and create as good a presently living legacy as possible, while you have the power to influence things? Surely, you can do more good for people by simple little acts of kindness, things that demonstrate to them that you care for them personally. Just loving someone isn’t enough if that love isn’t communicated to them in a real way, and you can’t do that if you are not living with them in their present moment.
John Done – No Man is an Island
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Niccolo Machiavelli in the Prince, (who some contend is the founder of “modernity” itself,) said that the people who leave a major legacy are: the founders of great religions—Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, the founders of long-enduring republics, empires, and civilizations—Romulus and Cyrus—the successful generals such as Alexander the Great, and lastly the great thinkers—Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.
I can’t do everything but I can do what I can do, and do it well.