Should We Be Concerned With Legacy?

When thinking about your life, is it valuable to think about your legacy? That is, should it matter what you leave behind you after you die?

In life, there is an advantage to having people think well of you. It can help attract good, thoughtful, productive people to you. It can help remove obstacles. Overall, it can make your life easier and more pleasant.

However, that advantage would seem to disappear after you die. How your memory lives on doesn’t confer any direct advantage.  There may be some indirect value to your family and loved ones, but that gets harder and harder to quantify as time goes on.

That approach is largely transactional, however. Is there a strictly moral component? Is it important that you are remembered as a good person after you die? If so, how much of your time and resources while alive should be devoted to trying to secure a legacy of some sort?

After all, we all have a limited amount of time and energy in our lives. How does the priority of establishing a legacy place against other earthly concerns? Like food and shelter, or accrual of wealth or status, or feeling contented or fulfilled? Or does how you go about fulfilling your daily needs become part of your legacy?

Is the idea one of the first things you abandon when faced with tough choices about life? To put it another way, is thinking about a legacy a luxury that only the upper class get to consider?

Do you think about how your name will outlive you? Do you take steps in your daily life to alter that? Should we be concerned with legacy? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

Related questions: What gives a person value? Why do we care what strangers think of us? How do you think others see you? What gives you purpose? What are you doing to make the world a better place?

What Are Your Values?

Our values help define us as individuals. They also help to guide us in making decisions that effect our lives.

Money plays an important role in our lives. You need money to buy food and shelter, not to mention recreational items.

And yet, most people would not list “money” as a value. If you don’t go to the effort of consciously listing what your values are, it can be all too easy to let money be the primary driving force in our lives.

So if, for example, farmers’ rights are important to you, you might spend more money on fair trade food items at the grocery store. If you are worried about single-use plastics, you might go to the extra effort to bring reusable containers to a restaurant if you have leftovers.

Having stated values can make it easier to make a decision, if one of the choices aligns with your values more than another.

Of course, thriftiness might well be a value of yours. That’s completely understandable, as money is a concern for most of us. However, even then it can be helpful to have that value stated explicitly.

Oftentimes, businesses are encouraged to make a list of company values, and distribute those among the company employees, so everyone knows what they are or should be working toward. The same thing is true of individuals or of households.

What are your values? Have you given any thought to them? How did you decide which ones would be most important to you? Do you discuss these values with others? And how do you handle a difference in values with friends, family members, co-workers, or neighbors?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? How do you define success? What is important? How do you set priorities? What gives you purpose?

How Much Power Does An Individual Have?

It can be difficult to properly judge the role of an individual in our society.

On one hand, one person can feel completely powerless. With institutions like political parties or religious groups consisting of hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, an individual has a limited voice. Some individuals, due to wealth or fame, can influence many people all at once, but if you are not one of those people, what recourse do you have?

Alternately, in our culture we often mythologize the lone creator. Steve Jobs was Apple, Jeff Bezos is Amazon, and Elon Musk is Tesla. We often associate an individual with large and powerful groups, even when it isn’t proper to do so.

Amazon, for example, is a huge company, filled with innovative people. Jeff Bezos didn’t design or build the Kindle. He didn’t develop or program the Amazon Web Services. He doesn’t fulfill orders, doesn’t make deals with distributors, doesn’t manage inventory. There are thousands of people employed by Amazon to do all of these tasks and more.

One of the greatest talents one person can have, however, is the ability to inspire others. One person can inspire a second to join them, and a third, and so on. That’s the ability that Steve Jobs had, and why our society revered him.

Everything that happens in our culture is done by individuals. A song becomes a hit because individuals listen to it. A book becomes a best seller because individuals each buy a copy. A movie is culturally significant because people — one person at a time — think it is.

Who really wields the power, the crowd or the people who make up the crowd? How much power does an individual have?

Related questions: How can we turn ideas into actions? Why do we feel the need to belong? How important is the artist to art? Where does authority come from?

What Gives A Person Value?

There are several ways to appreciate a person. People have many different ways that they can make a positive impact, either to an individual, or to society as a whole. To add value to existence.

Some individuals are titans of industry, creating jobs and wealth. Some are scientists, advancing our knowledge of the unknown. Still others are good friends, or good parents, or good neighbors. And, of course, it is possible to be more than one at the same time.

Of course, different people appreciate different things in others. To one person, punctuality might be a valuable trait, but to another it is unimportant.

What about you? What do you think gives a person value? Is one person more valuable than another? What makes them so? Is there a difference between value to an individual versus to society?

However, there is also the idea of negative value. Some people might take more from others or from society than they provide in return. They might steal, or be selfish, or harm others in some way.

Is there a point at which the value of an individual drops to zero? Or does everyone, no matter how bad, have some value? What does our societal institutions, like the law, our government, and religion have to say about human value?

Related questions: How do you define success? What are our responsibilities to others? What makes a community? How do you judge yourself?