Legacy of Love
Building a Legacy of Love
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | June 2013 (edited January 31, 2022)
We create a legacy of love through continual small acts of compassion and kindness.
Yesterday, I conversed with a homeless man. Intoxicated and frustrated, he called me vile names. He mocked me, threatened my family, and spat at me. He wore urine stained clothing and had no food in his tummy; he appeared miserable. His meanness, I quickly forgave, knowing his story is deeper and more complex than I could draw from our momentary contact. After nearly two decades of policing a major city, I have learned not to take interactions personally. His physical and mental condition, however, gave me great sorrow. Pain and loneliness were his daily companions.
A few hours after this unpleasant encounter, I was dispatched to the home of an 88-year-old man that passed away during the night. During my time in this house, family and friends continuously flowed through the door, lingered in the room, saying goodbyes. Over several hours, dozens of friends and relatives flooded the small rooms of this modest home. Over the course of this man’s long life, he built a legacy of love. I felt as if I stood on hallow ground.
Life Is a Complex Blend of Choices and fate
Neither the life of this recently deceased father (grandfather and friend) or the life of the struggling alcoholic were the expression of a single act. Their lives were composed of many proceeding days, choices and interactions. Our acts of kindness, or meanness, slowly create our legacy.
We build the essence of our being through relationships. Do we hate the world and in return the world hates us, or do we love the world and in return the world loves us?
One man died surrounded by friends and family, each with cherished memories of closeness; the other, sadly, will most likely die a lonely hermit. His meanness drives others from his life. In an odd play of fate and autonomy our lives are formed. In psychology, this is referred to as reciprocal determinism. Our actions impact our environment and our environment impacts our actions. Around and around we go slowly becoming.
Every Act of Kindness Matters When Building A Legacy
The independent forces that influenced the development of these two different men remain unknown to the casual observer. We can, and should, show compassion to both men. However, I do know that the seemingly small paths we take early in life largely determines the circumstances surrounding us later in life. Each act of kindness reverberates through our destines, forming or destroying our legacy.
“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
I want to be surrounded by those I love. I hope my children, friends, and family will gather with warm memories when my journey ends. This is what I want. I try to let these desires determine my behavior so I can leave a legacy of love.
Are you building your legacy of love or something else?
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