“That’ll Leave a Mark”

“That’ll Leave a Mark” – Tommy from Tommy Boy

Over the last week several news items got me thinking the most pormenient one is that Bill Gates lost the thone of the richest man in the world.  Here is a man who has changed the face of the world with the creation of the Software Company.  From all reports, his second act looks like it will make this first act insignafiant.  The size of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is so large that it boggles the mind.

So how much of a mark do people leave?

Lets play a game.  Name 3 people from the last 50 years who have changed the world. Keep going at intervals of 50 years.

2007 – 1957
Bill Gates (from the example above)
Ronald Regan
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

1957 – 1907
Winston Churchill
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Thomas Edison

1907 – 1857
Abraham Lincoln
Karl Marx
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

1857 – 1807
Charles Darwin
Søren Kierkegaard
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

1807 – 1757
Napoleone Buonaparte
Thomas Jefferson
George Washington

1757 – 1707
Benjamin Franklin
Johann Sebastian Bach
Jonathan Edwards

1705 – 1657
Henry Morgan
Sir Isaac Newton
Louis XIV of France

1657 – 1607
King James VI
Oliver Cromwell
Galileo Galilei

1607 – 1557
Queen Elizabeth
William Shakespeare
Sir Francis Drake

1557 – 1507
Christopher Columbus
Leonardo Da Vinci
Martin Luther

At this point I give up.  I cheated to get this far.  I can name only a handful of people before this time who made a mark on the world.  But now we have to look at time periods of hundreds of years.  Many times the mark they left is only their name and a handful of paragraphs in a history book.

Why are we as humans so worried about leaving a mark?  For the next 18 months our television will be crawling with people promising to make a mark on the world.  Some of these Presidential canidates will promise to solve problems, win wars, and balance budgets.  In the end they will all look for your alligence and vote.  They will promise that if you give them that, they will leave your mark on the world.  In years to come you can say, “My vote put them into a position of leadership, they were able to change the world because of me.  I made a difference.”  But if this is the case, then why are we so worried about how the future will find us?  Why are we so worried about the mark that our last President left on the world?  Perhaps we worry about these things becuase we can’t control them.  We can’t control our legacy.  We can’t control the future.

With this in mind now, go back over the list of people who have left a mark on the world.  How many of them worried about doing the rigth thing, right now, as opposed to worrying about how the world saw them tomorrow.  Perhaps this is what leaves a real mark, one that makes the world a better place for us having lived in it.  In the end, every big thing is made up of a bunch of small things.

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