Saturday, 26 May 2012

Hitler or Gandhi?

What will you leave behind when you die? Cash in the bank that won't even cover a bus fare, a dilapidated house to give someone else a headache,  a couple of vicious pets that someone else will have to 'put down'? Smelly old clothes that nobody wants to wear - not even a charity would take it? Unpaid debts (hopefully not in joint names), fake jewelry with no sentiment attached, or even a fancy car that doesn't work and nobody wants anyway? 

Let's say the above things (pets excluded) are brand spanking new and worth a big penny. Is that all you would really like to leave behind when you die - possessions? 

What about an imprint on society or better still, somebody's life? A legacy. Something that generations ahead of us will be able to continue to build on. Something that others will be able to learn from or be encouraged about. Something that will lead someone not to take their own life but rather to take control of it. A real legacy. 
Gandhi didn't leave much in the way of possessions but he left a free nation. To be precise: two dinner bowls, a wooden fork and spoon, his diary, prayer book, watch, porcelain monkeys, letter openers, spittoon, and two pairs of sandals. Hitler left millions dead, his country in ruins and a chapter in history that we will never forget. Martin Luther King left us all a dream of a world in which 'all men would be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character'. Florence Nightingale left behind considerable wealth, but we all know her for the caring nature she had towards the wounded and dying. How about Mary Seacole? She did much the same as her counterpart Nightingale but after her death she was not recognised until much later. My point is, she still left a legacy. 

On a smaller scale, I know that we are not all going to be able to free a nation, or get gunned down fighting for the rights of oppressed people. Not everyone gets to be rich or even gifted with exceptional charisma or intelligence, but we can still leave a great legacy behind us and hopefully a good one. I often wonder how Van Gogh the famous painter would react knowing that the paintings he couldn't sell in his lifetime are now priceless. He was the classic tormented genius. Not appreciated at all when he was alive but he still managed to leave a legacy to his name. 
You may not realise it, but you may mean a lot to someone else. Others may be looking to you. They may see you as their mentor. They may be watching your every move and how you react and how you deal with things in life. 

What if you had no material possessions to leave behind? All that you left was the impression you made on the people around you?

So my big question is, what are you going to leave behind that is unique?


  1. What an awesome message. The truth of it speaks in volumes. Small actions have huge impact. Most of the time we never see the full impact of our actions, but it still happens whether we see it or not.

    "You may not realise it, but you may mean a lot to someone else. Others may be looking to you. They may see you as their mentor. They may be watching your every move and how you react and how you deal with things in life."

    That paragraph is wisdom in written form. I hope that all who read this post can see that, and maybe some will even apply it in their own lives.

    Thanks for provoking thought... I hope you find a way to leave your own legacy.

    1. Jon, thank you so much for your message. I have many legacies I wish to leave behind, but whether or not I manage to put enough things in place now to get the ball rolling is another matter. Maybe if I start, someone else will finish it.

  2. Playing Devils advocate: Without Hitler we would not have the technology we have today, if you consider technology good. We would likely not have the internet. The first computers came about from the need to crack German secret messages . All wars have driven technology. Communication is the key to world peace. If two parties can communicate properly, they can discuss their dispute rationally-legally instead of trying to kill each other of a misunderstanding.

    1. Hello Mark p.s.2.
      I did say that this blog aims to encourage debate and I certainly was not expecting anyone to draw a positive out of Hitler's legacy. But I guess you could also say that sometimes evil can be used for good. But is it a price worth paying? That is where the debate begins. Thank you so much for your comment.

  3. This time you cut down to the quick, Rumpunch!

    In a way I agree with both Jon and Mark, in the sense that nothing is casual.

    Only I think your question is not answered yet, because it is painful and somewhat unfair if we want to be remembered, which in itself, even if it seems wrong, it is not important in the development of life.

    There is a wonderful, and hilarious book, written by Will Cuppy, titled "The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody", where he review the life of famous historical characters in a funny and agile way. As an example, he comments that history is unjust with many of those well known names, as in the case of calling Henry VIII a murderer when he only killed (or made them to be killed) only the 33,33% of his wives.

    But... I will try to answer your question.

    It is not easy to reckon that most of us will not shine in visible history. I know I don't!

    I am a nomad and I will always be, unless there is some "Universalquake" capable of breaking the whole cosmos apart.

    So, what can I leave behind? (Keeping this easy; supposing that it is behind where we are going!)

    No possessions, except some used hotel soap, and an old suitcase full of older things!

    Nobody will remember my person in the way they remember Florence Nightingale, or Van Gogh, never mind people like Gandhi or even Adolf, I mean I would not be remembered beyond the time my tombstone degrade to powder, and that if somebody takes the job of reading it, supposing somebody think first of putting a stone on my grave with my name!

    Maybe somebody will read some of my tales in my blog and will wonder "who was this guy?" And that will be it!

    So what can I do? There is not someone else to mean a lot to!

    But I am not sorry for this, remember I wrote a few post before that there are bricks into the foundations of the building that are not seen but somehow they fulfill a job. Perhaps that brick does not know what job it is, as in my case, but I like to think there are more thing rolling around that those that can be seen. (Something like: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.) Sorry for the trite phrase!

    Silly, as consolation, but it is better than no consolation at all! :)

    The only thing that I will leave behind, that is unique is "nothing"! And it is unique because it is "my" nothing! :)

    I guess it would suffice to write only the last sentence to answer your question, but I cannot reach a keyboard and be terse. :)

    As always, thank you Rumpunch for whipping the cream into a foaming thinking!!

    1. Untony
      Used hotel soap from many moons ago may be absolutely priceless for the future generations. Look how we go mad when we find a coin buried beneath the earth, and how we try our best to locate who it may of belonged to etc...:)

      Do you think Van Gogh thought he'd be remembered in this way?

      Sometimes it is only at death that we are recognized for our work. Maybe your blog will be a great part of history a thousand years from now, and everyone will be interested in who this Untony was, and why he wrote the way he did etc........

      So Untony, keep up the good blog work, you just don't know who is reading and what the future holds :)

      I am a reader of Untony's blog and I just love the tales he tells, and the way the music enhances your experience as you read. take a look for yourselves:

    2. Thank you Rumpunch!

      You are so kind as to fill of hope an almost hopeless soul!

      Unfortunately, it seems Van Gogh was a lot more worried about the actual working of his mind than about the future. But I am sure he never got the idea of the reverence his art would wake up in coming generations. Kafka was in the same boat, I presume.

      Sadly it is true, nothing is more valuable than the work made by deceased people.

      Promise I'll keep trying to write, nothing easier than this promise! :)

      Thank you for your warm words, Rumpunch! As I told you, you pamper me beyond my real value!!

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I removed this comment because it was a repetition of the previous one.

      A glitch in the Cybespace, I guess!

      Sorry for the space wrongfully used.!

  5. Fact....artistically presented....

  6. What a great post! If we were more mindful of leaving something worthwhile behind us, would we make different choices? It is only in living for a higher ideal than fulfilling our own needs that we can achieve this level of greatness, of leaving a legacy. For who honours the one who lived selfishly with poems or accolades? Hitler lived to serve his own selfish vision. Gandhi lived for the betterment of others beyond him. (So what will you do with this day?) :)

    1. Thanks Melody. That is the biggest question of all. 'What will you do with this day?'. Its so important because we really don't know if we will be here tomorrow.

    2. So true! And how to strike the right balance - living mindfully, aware of our mortality, while not becoming morbid or fearful? Hmmm... I'm sure we all take a wild pendulum ride from time to time...

    3. Melody, I've swung the highest in my lifetime, and I'm coming to a stop sooner or later! The right balance is very important. Thanks again.

  7. Very reflective. I don't think I can be as significant to the world as Gandhi but I can be the best person to my children and my family. I think only few are given the chance to be "hero" in some way. About the question, a life well lived I guess. Not for oneself alone but for others too.

    1. Thanks for commenting Littleyana. Who knows if we will be significant or not? but your idea of thinking is a great one. It all starts within the home.

  8. I am always touched by the comment of Karen from 'out of africa' when she recalls what she will remember of africa and asks will africa remember her - well there is still a district called karen in kenya and her books and the marvellous film too!

    1. Thanks for your comment here Fitzgarabaldi, a nice story.

      I have deleted the second comment you left here, which I believe you may of posted by mistake.

  9. This is a great post Rumpunch, which somewhat made me a bit sad by your questions - Do I really mean atleast a bit to someone? Will anyone be looking to me? Is there someone watching me? NO, I don't think someone's watching me or sees me as their mentor or really cares how I react to and deal with things in life...except myself and I don't think I deal with things very well! I may sound pessimistic but thats a fact for now.
    There shouldn't be any sadness and problems behind me in the lives of those who care for me...If I could be of help to someone or there has been a change even for a small matter and if I am satisfied with my act then such things matter. Better not be remembered at all than being remembered for bad things! :)

    Your posts are always thought provoking. It makes me think for hours, sometimes for days! :) It brings out so many related thoughts and links which I find it difficult to limit them to words. :)

    Thank you for sharing such nice posts! :)

    1. Kitty, the whole point of this article is the fact that you don't know who is watching you or who may be influenced by you. We are all the product of those who have influenced us, whether they realise it or not. Therefore we should live as though what we do counts because we may not realise who we are influencing in turn.

      As an example Kitty, you said that my 'posts are always thought provoking' etc. Until you told me this, I would have had no idea. I would have said I was just another member of the blogging community to you, I'm deeply touched by what you have said, and by the generous comments of many others. This has made me even more aware of the responsibility I have in what I post, to make it the best I can, so I can hopefully be a positive influence in any way possible.

  10. Slightly off-topic, but when I saw the title of your post I thought it would be about pacificism. Have you read George Orwell's thoughts on Gandhi? Orwell was notoriously hard on pacificists in the Second World War, but he admired Gandhi, mainly because Gandhi didn't back away from the question that every other pacifist of the time equivocated over: what to do about the Holocaust.

    On the subject, I'm lucky enough to know that I have had an influence on the lives of other people, but that's a very long story, and I'll let you know when I'm ready to tell it.

    1. Hi Dennis
      Thanks for this. If you could spare a moment, I would be really interested if you could share with us what Gandhi's stance on the holocaust was, only if you have the time.
      I'm not well informed in this area so any light you could shed would be of benefit to me.

      I'd also be delighted to hear your story one day. Thanks again for commenting.

  11. Rum-Punch Drunk, I really enjoyed your post. As someone who lives with the duel demons of Incurable Chronic Pain and Depression your post gave me another tool with which to fight off the thoughts of suicide which are a constant (unwelcome) companion. I run 2 blogs,,and a Pain support group and being reminded of the importance of these to both myself and others has given me a purpose which can be used to answer the 'What is the point?' type questions which I am prone to ask myself. Thank you.

  12. I really hope that I have been of a help to you here, as this means a lot to me. Thank you so much for your comment.

  13. Guess a person in teens would have tons of fantasy to think about it and live with dreams. More age attached to that person more that dream fade away, only somehow it returns time to time and at some point reality bites. May be. :))

    Funny enough that always I feel I've a different thinking ability (almost everybody thinks that!) and that way of thinking would last as long as I live. The time I will not be around of anybody (died) there wont be any effects of me to anybody. But the times I'm around you or somebody, they would notice me, or they would have effected because of me (for similar passions).

    Reality is, I learnt to do what I like or what I want to do, with or without fulfilling it successfully. Honestly, I don't much care whether they last in future or have any effect in future- but I try to care to make things right on my presence.

    I believe not a single person you mentioned had done anything to left after they died, not when they started doing what made them known till now. May be most or a lot of them not even realized before they did it or people name it-

    Now, if you ask me what I want to left behind, if it's a wish I would want to left "nothing" behind (that doesn't mean I want to take everything with me, by the way)! :))

  14. The fact you said 'they would notice me' in regards to you being alive, tells me that you are someone who leaves an impression on others, and you'll be remembered for that and I guess for much more. Even if you wish to leave 'nothing' behind, once you are gone, others may then build upon your 'different thinking ability' :) That's a good thing.

    Thank you Moonomo for participating here.


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