I am looking out over a frost covered morning, the sun dappling through the arms of majestic stalwart giants, onto a lawn that twinkles with its spiky light. The brown of scattered leaves gradually increases towards the garden’s edge, where the sun’s heat is melting the cold from the trees, and the green sheetlets that still cling to the branches drip with tears for brethren already fallen or for themselves that they will soon be joining them. A windless morning, framed by the sounds of a multitude of birds and the steady flutter of nature’s paper as the oaks shed their clothing as if in preparation for a winter’s dip. Nothing like a cold spell to make the trees want to get naked. And we’re not even in Scandinavia.
Life’s most fulfilling pleasures, they say, come from experiences rather than the expense; good deeds over goods; and a sense of achievement more than receiving a cheese. Even an unpasteurised Stilton. The expense, the goods, even the fungal blue veins growing on solid cow juice, these are all the passing pleasures of life. Satisfying for only an instant. Because we are of nature, and our nature dictates.
The real question is how do we want to be remembered? When we fall, like the leaves from the trees (if we’re lucky – how cool would that be, “Grandpa died aged 86, when he missed his footing climbing out of the treehouse. It’s how he’d have wanted to go”), what will we leave behind?
Alfred Nobel was a very lucky man. The inventor of both dynamite and gelignite, he was lucky enough to find out how the world would remember him when, at the death of his brother, Ludvig, many newspapers published Alfred’s obituary in error. Alfred Nobel, “The Merchant of Death” was lucky, because this error gave him the chance to change his legacy. And the rest of us are lucky, because that legacy was the establishment of the Nobel Prizes.
It is difficult to leave a legacy that will have a lasting impact. Yes, we can leave something to our children and grandchildren, but how they choose to squander it it will be up to them. The world will still change, politicians will still focus on the 4 year term, and the predictable longer term effects of such short term policies will still be a future of increasing inequality for our grandchildren. We’ll have had the best of it, but what will be left for them? Will we die without having made any difference at all?
It doesn’t have to be that way. People are better than that. Granted, if you go to any town centre on a Friday night, that might be hard to believe, but it’s not Friday night every night (sometimes it’s Saturday night, which is worse…). We all want to make a difference, but we just feel that there is no way that we can. Well we can. Russell Brand talks of revolution, but that is unnecessary. Which is lucky, as most people haven’t the first clue about putting up a decent barricade.
We can all leave a legacy. We don’t need to take up arms. We don’t even need to wait until we die to do it. In fact, my plan probably works best if you don’t die. Just saying. I’d prefer you alive. For the pen is mightier than the sword. Or keypad mightier than machine gun. But in this case, pen.
Because that legacy is as simple as choosing it. Like a juicy ripe nectarine, you can pluck this legacy with the stroke of the aforementioned ball point. As you bite into it and mark a cross on a voting slip for The Legacy Party, that succulent, fruit taste is the sweet taste of making a difference, and its luxurious flesh, juicily caressing your tongue is the knowledge that there is one party dedicated to long term rather than short term choices. You deserve to feel good because you can make a difference.
Looking out, the nature-framed gap in the trees ahead of me shows a picture of green fields, reflecting a bright warm light, and on, to rolling, sheep covered hills, a fence or two, then woods, a misty distant church. Then nothing but the profound expanse of a glistening pale blue sky, shining like a comforting blanket over the world. I am definitely not in London; this is nature’s state.
I want my grandchildren, all of our grandchildren, to have to opportunity to see such sites. They’ll probably choose Alton Towers, but I want to give them that choice.
Legacy: The Grandchildren’s Party. If we want politicians who focus on the longer term, so it’s up to us to vote for the ones that do.