It seems weird to me that in a hundred years, assuming the human race lasts that long, history books will be filled with pages of the reality we are currently living.
The president’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday will join a long list of presidential speeches. The war in Iraq will be critiqued and categorized. And more importantly, you, whoever you are, will either be remembered and celebrated or lost and forgotten.
There are some people in history who have refused to be forgotten. Changing the way we see the world, they come and go, writing their legacies as lived their lives.
The beginning of the “Anno Domini” era was dominated by a man who has arguably had the biggest impact on human history. Walking the streets of Jerusalem, Jesus of Nazareth inspired Middle Easterners to love God, and love each other. The philosophies he advocated are still practiced today all over the world.
Later, in the 16th century, Galileo Galilei worked silently under the watchful eye of the Catholic Church to aid in some of the most significant scientific discoveries of the time, inspiring everyone to see the world in a different way. Most notable was his determination to reveal the truth even when those around him were just as determined to suppress it.
In 1852, while the world was experiencing new advances in mechanization, America found itself in the midst of civil tension. Harriet Beecher Stowe emerged from the disorder to write one of the most influential books ever printed in America. “I will write this if I live,” she said, furthering the power of the written word with her book and contributing to a nation’s unease about a quickly approaching civil conflict.
By the late19th century, a young lawyer named Mahatma Gandhi had organized an Indian community in South Africa to non-violently demand civil rights. Later he became known worldwide for his commitment to civil disobedience and living a life of simplicity and peace. His teachings even inspired Martin Luther King Jr. to stand up against the injustices African Americans were experiencing in the Jim Crow south.
Just ten years ago the world lost a women who gave herself completely to people living poverty-stricken areas. Dressed in her usual white nun outfit, Mother Teresa committed herself to end suffering in less advantaged parts of the world and received a Nobel Peace Prize for her selflessness.
There is a part of me that would love this column to inspire all those who read it, to immediately stand up and do their part to make a positive mark on the history pages, but for almost 20 years I have witnessed the perplexity that is human nature. I don’t have that much faith in people anymore.
It seems that in the fast past motion of today’s society, people are becoming more and more indifferent. We’ve sold our souls to electronic stimulation, looking in the mirror, and having a general disregard for the world around us. It hurts my heart to see people so apathetic and unwilling to stand up for, well, anything.
I challenge you to get up and prove me wrong. You may never reach the level of admiration some people have achieved, but in at least one person’s soul, you will never be forgotten.
In a hundred years, you will no longer exist, but your legacy will. What will it say? Pick up your pen and find out.