A recent walk through Balmain and Birchgrove delighted our Walk & Talk group with its fascinating history and beautiful views. A memorial to Tom Uren, born in Balmain when it was a working-class suburb, enabled us to reflect upon his legacy. Uren was ahead of his time, speaking out strongly for peace, and conservation of treasures for future generations to enjoy. As a Japanese POW sent to work on the Burma railway, amongst other atrocities, he emerged with deep compassion for his fellow man, including Japanese citizens. His terrible experiences motivated him to find solutions, rather than become bitter. Uren was a loving father figure for our current Prime Minister. His legacy lives on!
It is easy to be critical of our forebears. Our planet is responding furiously to the indignities thrust upon it since the Industrial Revolution. We can try to lay blame at the feet of previous generations, but know we are also complicit. There are many situations where we can step back and choose our focus. Being appreciative of the many good, well-meaning contributions that have benefitted us, is uplifting for everyone. The attitude we choose affects our self-esteem, especially when it comes to our family history. Let’s be generous in our reflections, remembering our memories contain a certain bias.
Importantly, what legacy are we leaving? Is our response to the climate crisis a reduction in our energy consumption and the waste we leave behind? Do we stand for what is good, just and kind – modelling values that will help generations to come? Maybe our contribution is in our field of expertise, as part of a team and not so visible. But it counts, so work with diligence for the good of all anyway. Financial legacies contribute to wonderful strides forward in important new areas, which would otherwise be unattainable.
Groups can also leave an admirable legacy. As society changes its ways, institutions which previously thrived and contributed much to our community, are now in steady decline. Some find renewed purpose in leaving a legacy to assist new initiatives to thrive, which often hold similar values.
Leaving a legacy is our privilege to shape the future by supporting what we hold dear. Who we are, and how we live now, has an influence that outlasts us. Let’s make our legacy one to be proud of!
Legacy is not what I did for myself. It's what I'm doing for the next generation - Vitor Belfort
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.