Things More Important than Names

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What do you want people to remember about you?

From the time I was very young, I’ve heard people expressing a desire or encouraging others to “make a mark” in the world or “leave a legacy.” The notion is usually associated with doing something on a grand scale to ensure that one’s name is not forgotten. However, I think we get sidetracked by the “name” part of people remembering us.

The names of people who made some significant contributions to society and our lives often end up in obscurity. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of my Black male math teacher who opened up the subject for me and so many other students. I can’t recall his name, but the effect he had is etched in my mind, and I carry what he taught me—beyond even mathematics—forward when teaching my kids about numbers and life.

Conversely, we are bombarded with names and faces without knowing or caring about their contributions to society. Branded on signs, buildings, etc. We use their names but are lost as to who they were.

I’m looking at you, Kosciuszko Bridge.

1920px-kosciusko_bridge_from_up_newtown_creek_jeh

I’ve crossed that bridge countless times, but the name on it is not nearly as important as the nameless who built it. So, I think I’d rather it’s not me but what I’ve done that is remembered.

In my faith, there is the notion of sadaqatul jarriyah (ongoing charity), which involves creating or contributing to the creation of something that has long-lasting benefits for humanity. It means that the positive effects of what you’ve made/built/started continue even after you’re gone. Your name might not be remembered, but the goodness of what’s you’ve done will be.

So, people remembering my name or even me as a person isn’t nearly as important to me as leaving something that helps make their lives a little better.


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3 thoughts on “Things More Important than Names

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  1. “In my faith, there is the notion of sadaqatul jarriyah (ongoing charity)”

    “Your name might not be remembered, but the goodness of what’s you’ve done will be.”

    Love this!

    Liked by 1 person

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