Faith Column: The story of your life
A lasting legacy: What kind of story will you leave behind?
On March 19, Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist church, passed away. The next day, his son Nate Phelps spoke at Mount Royal University.
For those of you that don’t know, the Westboro Baptist Church is an unaffiliated Baptist church in Topeka, Kansas. They are well known for their strong hate speech towards homosexuals and their frequent picketing of funerals.
Nate Phelps, son of Fred Phelps, left the church and left home when he was 18. He now tours around speaking against the ideas of the Westboro Baptist Church and promoting acceptance and equality.
At the end of his regular lecture, Nate read a press release he had written regarding his father’s death. In it he said that, unfortunately, even though his father has died, the negative ideas that he promoted still live on. His legacy of hate will continue on through both the Westboro Baptist Church and many others who are encouraging prejudice and violence. I don’t know what will be written on his headstone, but I do know that the way he has been portrayed in the media will be the way will be remembered.
We live in a digital age. Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram — photos that we take end up on the Internet instantaneously, and can stay there for eternity. We don’t often think of how we are presenting ourselves.
With the end of the semester a mere couple of weeks away, I am transferring files and uploading a whole host of videos I’ve made to my website as a demo reel. When graduating from broadcasting; a demo reel is your entire legacy. Other students in our program made a graduation video where each of us shared gossip about our classmates. The “dirt” that was dug up on people, might not follow us for a lifetime, but for a brief moment, it becomes our legacy.
A legacy is also something (an object or a reputation) that can be passed on. This is the last issue of The Reflector for this school year. Whatever is written on these pages will be the legacy we leave for the next four months until our positions are picked up by a new team in the fall.
When I came in eight months ago, I was handed a legacy of despair and hopelessness from the previous faith columnist. One thing that Nate Phelps and I seem to have in common is that we both desire to leave a legacy of hope in our wake. He believes that by spreading a message of acceptance and community in an atmosphere characterized by the absence of faith, the world can have the greatest hope. I would argue that hope in its most inspiring form exists within a faith environment.
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned hope. In fact, at the start of this academic year I wrote a whole column about it. In the three months since then I have progressively watched myself and countless others close to me slip into fits of hopelessness. However, in full circle of the very first topic I had the privilege of writing back in August, I pray that you don’t stop at hopelessness. It is my hope that the past eight months have been a learning experience for you, more than just in your field of study. I hope that as you move forward from this place, whether you are coming back to it soon or transitioning into a new phase of life, that you make every action an intentional investment into your legacy. I hope that you can look back and not see hate in your wake or a laundry list of “dirt” in your life. May your legacy be full of character and a hope that’s joyfully infectious. In the words of a traditional Irish blessing:
“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”