I received this text the day it happened. ”Paul Walker is dead.”
My mind stretched and searched and I could not think if this was someone I was supposed to know. (Maybe I live in a cave?) After being informed he is the face of the “Fast & Furious Franchise,” I honestly wasn’t sure how to feel about this guy I knew nothing about.
Since that time a couple of weeks ago I see Paul Walker’s face on everything. The latest “Fast & Furious” can be purchased on DVD where you can “celebrate his talent.” Thousands of people flocked to his funeral which was announced on social media. His face is everywhere.
My students want to discuss the passing of Paul Walker often. I think it’s because some decided to have Fast & Furious movie marathons over Thanksgiving weekend. The girls have said, “He was so gorgeous. It’s a shame.” The boys just wish they had his car.
I wonder if that is the legacy he most wanted to leave?
Brought up a Morman he attended a Christian High School. In an article someone sent me it claimed he was a “non-denominational Christian.” The article didn’t talk about a relationship with a Savior, as much as nature helps him know there is a God. It was followed by an article about how he wanted to play Christian Grey in the movie adaptation of “50 Shades of Grey.”
I wonder again, “Is THAT the legacy he wanted to leave?”
There was another person in the car, the driver Roger Rodas. For all the information about Paul Walker all I have found about him was that he was a financial advisor and, “died in the crash as well.” Is that the legacy HE wanted to leave?
In the midst of all the fast and fury, Nelson Mandela passed away. In contrast, when I was told that, the Political Science major in me who had studied the history of South Africa gasped. He donned the covers of newspapers and magazines side by side with Walker. When asked about him, the same students recalled maybe hearing his name in history class. A man born an African prince (Madiba), who spent most of his life in jail for the sake of injustice, who brought down Apartheid and championed peace, he bears a legacy that will don history books for a long while. One of his most famous quotes refers to his Christian faith: “until I changed myself, I could not change others.” (Meaning until he was changed.) Here is HIS legacy:
“A giant of history … In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness; through persistence and faith … He accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price … We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the people of Africa, and young people around the world: You can make his life’s work your own.”- President Obama
I believe this is a Legacy he doesn’t regret.
Here we have two men who have left this earth. Unfortunately, Paul Walker will be remembered far less for his charity and the work and humility he offered through it, than his being an actor. Nelson Mandela is remembered as a world changer. Yet, our students tend to “care” about the glamorous.
I wonder this week when we see our students will we be brave enough to point to of the idea of legacy.
Then will we ask them (and maybe ourselves): What is the legacy we want to leave? While not an easy question to answer it feels more powerful than, “What do you want to DO with your life?”
So I challenge you, this week when a student talks about their favorite “whoever” will you bring the focus back around to legacy? Will you tell them stories of the people who have impacted you who have gone before and never made the news? Could their legacy involve telling the world about Christ, starting today?
Talk to me- what are you thinking?