"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mini-Project 4: What Will Be Your Legacy?

Mini-Project 4: What Will Be Your Legacy?

Legacy is a word that is sometimes taken to mean something more grandiose than the dictionary meaning which is “something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past”. Many young people go through life wanting to create a long lasting legacy that is up there with the captains of industry, trailblazers of science and courageous freedom fighters. I am in the belief that these people will ultimately fail. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Mahatma Ghandi, Helen Keller, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and so one and so forth were all people who created great paths of legacy but they did not predict that they would ahead of time nor did they plan on it. No, they were simply people who had goals to achieve and the will, creativity and most importantly the passion to carry it through. Without passion, there is is no legacy to create in the first place thus, I believe this question is premature. The question should be, what am I passionate about and what will I do with it in the future?

I believe that the only inevitability in the future is uncertain and that trying to predict my own legacy is as accurate a game as picking next week's lotto numbers but that doesn't mean it is futile to see what it may be, speculation after all is the driving force of the market system. The first step to trying to figure out what one's legacy in the future will be is to answer what is their passion in the present. I am passionate about many things, I am passionate about investing in markets and real estate, Canada, city life, the outdoors and interacting with other people. Among those things, I could create any number of legacies whether they be small or grand. As an investor for instance I may be doing something as small as providing my children with enough money to attend post-secondary educational institutes or I could become an investment guru like Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn. As a passionate Canadian, I could end up teaching Canadian history (a little passion of mine) or be the Prime Minister (unlikely). I may even create a legacy that I am not even conscious of. When I was younger for example, I helped put together a TV show on community cable around the subject of violence and racism among the youth in Toronto (that's my little passion about city life). That TV show could have reached any number of people who will be inspired go on and create their own great legacies and I in turn would have indirectly contributed to that process. But in order to create one grand legacy, I would have to be interested n one grand passion project. And truth be told, I still see myself as a young person who is not overly interested in one issue more that much greater than any other.

When it comes to creating my own legacy, I cannot be sure what is it because I have a wide range of things I am passionate about which change and evolve as I get older. When I was younger for instance, I was very interested in computers, I even worked in the industry for two years before I simply lost interest. These things happen, life happens and people mature and change. What ultimately determines my legacy will be up to the future and I have no desire to try and predict the future. That being said, if it was up to me my legacy will not be big and grandiose. I don't want a a large funeral with 20,000 people in attendance and broadcasted on live TV with my lifetime achievements. Instead, I only wish to be remembered for the person that I am among the people that I am close to. Instead of being remembered for my actions or what I was interested in, I'm perfectly content with being remembered just for being an honest person with a wicked sense of humour. Some might read this and think that I may be apathetic and cynical, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have been proactive in helping out my community, reducing my environmental footprint and securing my financial footprint, buying ethical products and using open source software. What really doesn't dwell on my mind is what my legacy will be. It is said that you cannot change the past or know the future but only focus in the present and that is the philosophy that I subscribe to. What happens after I am gone is ultimately up to other people to decide which to me really just makes it a post-mortem popularity contest. What I care about isn't my legacy at all but what I can do in the present to contribute to society at large.

So far, this article has been pretty vague about what I ultimately want to see society achieve, that is because I am pretty unsure of it myself. I simply don't see myself as someone who is fit to judge all of Canadian society, much the entire world and fix it as I see fit. My parents are both refugees of the Vietnam War, they probably know better than anyone what happens when ignorant but well meaning people attempt to impose their solutions onto the greater society. This is something I am careful to keep in mind of thus, rather than type out instructions for everyone to follow, I have specific actions that I do that I believe help out the society at large.

My general beliefs:

  • I don't believe that recycling is a legitimate replacement for garbage, I believe that minimizing consumption is a replacement for wasting resources. First, because much of our recycling ends up in landfills anyway because it is not cleaned or separated properly or even worse, companies don't care and second, recycling itself causes consumption of energy and resources to do so.

  • I volunteer at various non-profit organizations when I have the time. I grew up in a fairly poor neighbourhoods throughout my life and have seen what happens when kids don't have hope. That's why I often visit my high school and middle school and give talks to kids about their post-secondary education options. Heck, I even helped put on a TV show about it once.

  • I'm a believer in public transit and take it whenever I can.

  • I believe that patents are a tax on ideas. Once an idea is patented, it costs someone else money to use that idea to improve on something else, this is why I am a huge proponent of Open Source Software. Instead of Windows or Macs, I use Linux, instead of MS Office, I use Open Office, I use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer or Safari etc..

Those are some of my strongest beliefs but I understand that they are not feasible for everyone to follow and that doesn't bother me as long as we all have a vested interest in improving society we live in, we'll all benefit from the outcomes, no matter what issue it is.

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