By Julie Swaner
I read an interesting story recently about Alfred Nobel, a successful Swedish industrialist, engineer, innovator, and inventor of dynamite. He was famous and wealthy in his lifetime living the life of a well-heeled millionaire. Alfred’s brother, Ludvig Nobel, was also wealthy and famous and he died prior to Alfred in 1888. Somehow the obituary was switched and it announced Alfred’s death the next day in the newspaper.
Alfred’s obituary dubbed him “The Merchant of Death” because of his work with dynamite and detonators. In that illuminating moment, Alfred realized that his legacy would always be associated with death and destruction, unless he deliberately changed his legacy and moved his name in a different direction. He knew that he had to stand for something else. We are all familiar with the Nobel Prizes for Science, Medicine, Economics, Peace, and more. Alfred left his nine million dollar fund almost entirely to the Nobel Prizes. He wanted his legacy to reflect something greater and nobler than dynamite and detonators.
Do you ever ponder the legacy that you want to leave? I want to have a lasting legacy with First Church, the only church that I have ever called home. Sure, I would I love my legacy to be naming rights for Eliot Hall or the new courtyard. That won’t happen, but I can still give and can still make a difference; a difference that will continue to live on for generations to come. Every time I sit in our wonderful chapel, I consider those earlier Salt Lake Unitarians who made a financial commitment that created an additive legacy.
I will never be an Alfred Noble with millions to give, but I can make a difference when my pledge is combined with others. Charity begins at home and if you call First Church home then please dig deep(ly).