If you are reading my blog today, expecting some syrupy, sentimental foray into the past; you have indeed come to the right place. I miss a time when children could play outside after dark, when neighbors knew one another’s names, when common social courtesies prevailed. I yearn for a simpler time, when the human connection prevailed above all else; a time where doing right was simply done because it was right!
Over the course of man’s time on this magnificent Earth, we have paid witness to the extinction of many species and sub-species. All of us are familiar with the demise of the passenger pigeon; the last survivor passing on at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. Maybe a little lesser known is the Javan Tiger; a feline that last graced Southeast Asia in 1979. Sub-species have also fallen by the wayside; witness the Quagga, a relative of the Zebra!
Unfortunately, this eternal process of evolution, or selective survival, has not been limited to just the animals found in the wild. Many a plant has also failed to stand up to climatic change and urbanization. Perhaps the saddest phenomenon within this theme is the extinction of one sub-species of the homo sapien animal. Specifically, I am referring to the genetic aberration known as the “legend in his/her own time!”
All through history, we have recounted the sagas of those who were legends during their time on Earth. There were the great religious, political, military, sports, entertainment, and literary figures. The mere mention of their name caused us all to reflect in awe and reverence. Although they spanned many walks of life, the legends shared one common trait; simple human decency. In short, their main trait was that they did what was right only because it was the right thing to do!
Just the mention of one of these legend’s names paints a vivid picture of a life well lived. Gandhi, Mandela, Eisenhower, Gehrig, Chaplin, and Gibran; each name has come to symbolize a person who set their own self interests aside for the better good of those they served. I am not fooling myself into believing that these individuals did not come with their own personal frailties or character flaws. Yet when it became time to rise to the occasion, when they felt that their inherent talents would serve the needs of others; none of them hesitated to act selflessly! For their words, each will be remembered; for their deeds, each has been immortalized.
Today’s headlines are riddled with episodes of scandal. Those that we consider to be leaders, the people who are supposed to be serving humanity; they invariably fall prey to their own self-interests! These individuals shun the responsibility that comes with power and popularity, choosing instead to better themselves at the expense of those they have pledged to serve.
The legend has indeed succumbed to the law of extinction. Look around you and ask yourself a simple question. “Is there anybody out there that I can truly look up to?” The resounding “no” that will echo back at you speaks volumes. Now ask yourself an even more important question. “Do my children have anyone that they can aspire to model themselves after?” The response is sobering to us all.
Will you model your life after the philanderer? Maybe the embezzler is more your cup of tea? How about the tycoon who got the bonus after running his corporation into the ground? Care to pattern yourself after the superstar with the addiction problem? Then there is always the sports icon who turned a blind eye to pedophilia!
It is difficult for us to find inspiration in the lives of those who have already passed away. One struggles to connect with a legend that took his last breath over a hundred years ago. All of us want to find a hero who walks amongst us; somebody who ages from now will be labeled a legend as well. So where do we find this elusive person?
The universe abhors a vacuum; that is a scientific fact. We live in a time that is devoid of persons that we can call legends. Perhaps then the world is calling out to you. Maybe it is time for you to claim your birthright as a legend for others. Can you selflessly set aside your own interests for the better good of humanity? Will you embrace the responsibility of inspiring all of those around you? Are you willing to do what is right, simply because it is right? Step up now, join those of us who refuse to accept extinction; and the day will soon come when they will call you a legend as well!