By Babatunde Jose
“All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.” – Jim Rohn
It is an inevitable fact that we will not inhabit this planet forever. We are fully aware that one day we will breathe our last, and, leave all of our temporary material possessions behind on this Earth. The only thing that will live on, when we are no longer alive, is the legacy that we have left behind. The good book said: “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.” Proverbs 13:22
We were in Aiyepe last week to bury the aged mother of our friend Abiodun; Alhaja Morinat Alaba Shobanjo, aged 99. It was a solemn burial at the Moslem Community Cemetery with the attendees including a Governor, a Senator and some captains of business and industry. We were all at the graveside. Despite all the admonitions of the Islamic cleric, one thought kept going through my mind. The old woman has gone back to her maker. He who sent her in the first instance; what legacy has she left behind? Of course, there was a mosque right in front of her house, presumably built to the glory of God by her son, and everyone gave a good testimony of her Godliness, kindness, compassion and life of service to her community; she was an epitome of a good Moslem. These are enough to win her good points on the day of Qiyamah. May Allah accept her into the Garden of Bliss; Aljana Firdaus.
But, what of the rest of us: What legacy are we leaving behind, apart from our used SUVs, our porch houses complete with swimming pools and saunas? What legacies are we leaving apart from our businesses which we would not guarantee their riding through the test of time? What legacies: Other than our children who in the fullness of time will ultimately follow us to the grave. What legacies? But the good name and character we have left and which will be used to reference us in times to come. History is filled with the names of good men who passed through this world but who have been forgotten and their memories consigned to the dustbin of history.
A political commentator (Reich) once noted, “The central paradox of our time is that most of us are earning more money and living better in material terms than (our parents) did a quarter century ago… Yet by most measures we’re working longer and more frantically than before, and the time and energy left for our non-working lives are evaporating. The new economy we are living in brings enormous benefits in terms of wealth… innovation… new chances and choices. But our absorption in keeping up with it all is leading to the erosion of our families, the fragmenting of our communities, and the challenge of keeping our own integrity intact. We are in danger of losing the crucial distinction between ‘making a living and making a life.”
What we are experiencing is a crisis in generational legacies. Martin Luther, when asked what he would do if he knew he were to die tomorrow, replied simply, “I’d go out and plant a tree.” He would, in other words, leave behind him a legacy of life that would grow on and on into the future. Are we prepared to leave a legacy that will grow on into the future or are we living for today? Our departed Alhaja has a mosque built in her name that would stand the test of generations if it is not demolished. For every prayer said in that mosque she receives good points called lada!
“3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. PHILIPPIANS 2:3–4. Unfortunately we do not follow this simple precept, despite our being turbaned ‘Baba Adini’ and Baba Ijo.
Living a life worthy of Legacy means that we fear the Lord and obey Him; The Psalmist said: The generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:2
John F. Kennedy, in Profiles in Courage, described the need for courageous people: “Some men show courage throughout the whole of their lives. Others sail with the wind until the decisive moment when their conscience and events propel them into the center of the storm.” If you want to leave a lasting legacy, you need to act with courage to reach out to those in need and help him recognize his convictions.
The challenge here is to leave your children a heritage, not just an inheritance. As someone once said, “Our children are messengers we send to a time we will not see.”
Maybe the best example of what it looks like to leave a legacy is found in the lives of David and his son Solomon. David was a man who, although he was far from perfect, exemplified what it looks like to have a repentant heart and was a leader who, because of his commitment to God, reaped huge blessings.
And then there’s Solomon his son whose story plays out a little differently than David’s. Where David made some mistakes, learned from them, repented of them and sought God through them, Solomon seemed to make all the right moves, at least at first. Instead of asking God for great wealth or power, he simply asked for wisdom, which pleased God greatly. He built the Jerusalem temple where the ark was placed so that God could dwell among His people, and God was happy to consecrate it.
Several times he was reminded by God: “If you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever.”
Yet Solomon must have stopped listening for “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter … He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. See (1 Kings 9:4-5). Solomon was led astray, no longer loyal to God, and God kept His word, tearing the Kingdom of Israel from Solomon’s hands. Solomon’s is a sad legacy to leave. It started out well but turned sour. As David is known for being a man after God’s heart, Solomon in known for his unfaithfulness.
Then there’s this passage right in the middle of the Ten Commandments. God declares, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6).
We should therefore strive to leave this world a better place than we found it.
“By time, indeed, mankind is in loss, except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Surah al-Asr – Qur’an: 103]
May our children not suffer for our iniquities; amen.
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend