When I was a high school freshman, I was a writer for the school newspaper. I was the youngest member of the team and the only male, and I was given the responsibility of being the editorial page editor. The page was titled “The Legacy’s Corner”, in my honor, as the teacher / sponsor felt that, as the youngest member, I would be the one contributing the most to the paper (at least in terms of years served) and paving the way for future generations to pick up where we left off. I was the epitome of the paper’s legacy, as we saw fit to establish, according to her.
It didn’t quite work out that way, as I moved in the middle of my sophomore year, but it was a concept that I never forgot. Legacy. Establishing the foundations for those who follow, championing the “right” and defying the “wrong”. It is difficult to conceptualize the term without putting it in context of warfare. King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans, Roland and the paladins of Charlimagne, the daimyo Oda Nobunga and the samurai, even the valiant men who died June 6, 1944 during the Invasion of Normandy.
But not all warfare is physical, and not all champions need to be proficient with sword and shield (or even horse and bayonette, wakka wakka!).
When DC Comics launched the “New 52” reboot last summer [*geek reference alert*], the recurrant villain Deathstroke the Terminator (aka Pete Slade) got his own book. While not ground breaking, there was a chunk of the internal monologue regarding his place in the long line of warriors throughout history that I found interesting:
“Throughout time, we have been honored and praised, loved and feared, but above all, we have been respected… and that’s what is most important to us. The greatest warriors that fought for the greatest kingdoms had the greatest respect. And I am the greatest of them all. But the world has changed, and there are no longer ‘kingdoms’ worth serving, except one; it controls everything. It drives and motivates nearly every person on the planet: money. In a world controlled by economic currency… the greatest respect for a warrior is what someone is willing to pay him.”
Sort of a warped take on legacy, but it helps put the concept into perspective.
I found myself recently wondering why I felt so compelled to drive my blog’s viewership, in light of what I wrote in my first blog, where I mainatained that I didn’t just want to offer up more consumable soundbites to be chewed up and spit out. What was my genuine motivation? Attention? Validation? Vindication?
And, in context of that fictional character’s soliloquy, it occured to me that the last great battlefield is the battlefield for the hearts and minds of people, words are our weapons, voice is the only real superpower and we are perhaps the samurai of the written word. Words can mend or destroy, and for those who know how to command them effectively, we are charged to not only wield them responsibly but to do so with persistence. This requires us to dig deep and speak words of truth to our own hearts, to find the courage to fight for ownership of ourselves in the face of lies that have been whispered in our ears since our hearts were still too tender to resist.
You are what you choose to be, friend. Every person’s path is unique, but before you give up on yourself, consider that your struggles may be in the same area others are still lost in; maybe you are exactly what they need.
Another definition of “legacy” is the ‘office of a legate’ or ’emissary’, which is a delagate or messenger. I want to increase my viewership and continue to practice this “martial art”, not out of some desperate need for attention, but the audience is what gives the emissary his purpose. And maybe it is my vindication and retribution for all of the heart break.
[*another geek reference alert*]
I want to challenge you to consider your legacy. Do you want to fall prey to your vices and limitations, just to be forgotten? Or stand out in an increasingly divided world with a message of genuine hope? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you dare to be?