We are...capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth, to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet. To enhance enormously our understanding of the Universe, and to carry us to the stars.
– Carl Sagan
History will not remember you.
Don't take it personally. It won't remember me either.
And, though they get mention in books and records, even the great figures of the ages are not remembered. How many US Presidents can you name? How many Roman Emperors? How many kings of England, France or Spain? Of the Greek and Roman poets and thinkers whose works have been preserved in the ivory towers of knowledge, how many do you know? And of those, how many have you actually read? Let alone all those who were at the zenith of their cultures in the Americas and Asia throughout history.
The universe is so vast and we are so small, it's only folly that any of us aspire to be great in the way the world measures greatness. Rather, the Breton Fisherman's prayer – and the child's prayer of the Children's Defense Fund – is the more accurate expression of our common human condition:
Dear God, be good to me;
The sea is so wide,
And my boat is so small.
Every hero has an origin story. Peter Parker, rejected teenager, is bitten by a radioactive spider. Kalel is sent to safety on earth by parents on a technologically advanced but dying planet.
Christmas tells an origin story, too. Jesus, the promised child of prophesy, is born to an unwed teenage mother.
We don't remember and tell these stories because of their historical accuracy. We tell them because they resonate with our experience. We tell them because they inspire hope that the world could be a kinder place than it is.
We cannot be remembered by history. But our significance lies in our potential to bring to life that hope among the people we do know, and who know us.
Who would miss you if you were gone?
Certainly, not everybody. But just as certainly, some would. So the more important question is, What will you do that today will help the world to be a kinder place for them?
Photo: "A 10-day old asylum seeker arrives at the wall", by Daniel Arauz