With the world events of the last few days fresh in the news, I am reminded of the fact that we all leave a legacy—it is simply a matter of what kind. Demonstrating this fact are the juxtaposition of the recent deaths of former American president Gerald Ford and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
As I have watched the events unfold, I have been impressed with the striking differences between how each man passed from life to death and the subsequent ways in which each are being remembered for how they lived their respective lives. Gerald Ford, who had greatness thrust upon him, served as a healing influence during some of America’s darkest days. Saddam Hussein, who grasped power illegitimately and ruthlessly, drove his once proud nation into the desert sands of dysfunction and defeat.
Gerald Ford, a man of deep faith and a devoted husband for more than fifty years, is being remembered with a state funeral and regal honors typically reserved for royalty. On the other hand, Saddam Hussein massacred his own people—including those of his own family—and was unceremoniously hanged for his crimes against humanity while cursing his captors. Perhaps a New York Times headline captures it best: “Saddam Hussein never bowed his head, until his neck snapped.”
As for the rest of us, what lessons are to be learned? I, for one, commit myself anew to living life with a singular focus on faith and family. For in the very end, we shall all be judged by how we treat our Creator and those closest to us. In big and small ways, our legacy is lived out on a daily basis for one and all to see.