As I’m working on my history homework, a thought shot through my head; did the famous names of history know that their actions would stand the test of time, that they would become household names and that future generations would read of their deeds?
I have to think that people like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and the other great historical figures of our past didn’t risk their lives and engage in earth-shattering wars just to “make history.” I highly doubt that Nathan Hale wasn’t thinking of his legacy when he declared, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” They made history without that being the intent, they acted morally and conscientiously and acted according to their moral compass, for the benefit of others.
All too often these days, I hear people saying things along the lines of, “I participated in a historic march today” or “We’re trying to make history” or “Come participate in a historic protest”.
I think they’re missing the point.
History will remember you if what you do is right, not because you wish it to.
History will remember you if you make a difference, good or bad.
Selfless sacrifice makes history. Fighting for others against all odds, when it isn’t easy and the world is stoning you for your efforts and beliefs, makes history. Fighting for the good in the world, for the poor and the rich and the sick and the healthy, makes history.
Joining a cause for its supposed future historical value is, simply put, shallow. It goes back to the age-old question; do the means justify the ends, and do motivations matter?
I think they do. I think that doing good for goodness’ sake, without reward or recognition, makes the result so much sweeter.
The goal of doing good shouldn’t be to make history. History will be made in the pursuit of doing good.