Leaving A Positive Legacy

Steve Arterburn

Did you know the Nobel Peace Prize is named after Alfred Nobel, the Swedish industrialist who invented dynamite? How did this come to be? It’s an interesting story. When Alfred’s brother Ludvig died, a newspaper mistook Ludvig for Alfred. As a result, the newspaper printed Alfred’s obituary, with a headline that read, ‘The Merchant of Death Is Dead.’ The obituary then proceeded to describe Alfred as a man who made his fortune helping people kill one another.

Alfred Nobel was cut to the heart. His legacy, as the obituary described it, was simply tragic. So he set himself to the task of changing it while he was still able. When Alfred really died eight years later, he left $9 million to fund awards for people whose work benefited humanity’thus, the birth of what we know as Nobel Peace Prizes.

Alfred Nobel was given a rare gift: the opportunity to read his own obituary, and make changes before it was too late. Men, perhaps it would be fruitful to spend a while imagining yourselves in his shoes. If your life ended today, how might those around you assess your contribution to your fellow man? Don’t concern yourself with the quantity of those contributions, for bigger is certainly not always better. Concentrate instead on their quality.

Unlike Alfred Nobel, none of us will probably ever read our own obituaries. However, all of us have the opportunity to live examined lives, and to make changes where changes need making.

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