Physics genius Albert Einstein once said: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Life, we all know, is a miracle in itself.
One’s legacy is decided by the way one lives and practices the Art of Giving in their life. In 1888, a wealthy and successful businessman was reading an obituary in a French newspaper. It was supposed to be his brother’s, but as he read, he realized that the obituary had been written about him by mistake. It bore the headline “The Merchant of Death is Dead,” and described a man who had amassed his fortune by helping people kill one another. He was, unsurprisingly, deeply troubled by this glimpse of what his legacy might have been had he actually died on that day.
This businessman, a gifted chemist, was the inventor of dynamite. He died years later in 1896 in San Remo, Italy. He grew fantastically rich from the proceeds of his explosives businesses, inventing and manufacturing dynamite, the blasting cap, gelignite, and ballistite. These patented inventions were made during a time when diamond drilling crowns and pneumatic drills were coming into general use. Together, these inventions reduced the cost of many construction projects like drilling tunnels, blasting rocks, building bridges, and so on. When he died, the Swedish businessman bequeathed a considerable portion of his fortune to create a fund and prizes in his name. These prizes included a grant for the person who accomplished “the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the promotion of peace congresses.” As stated in his will, the prizes were to be awarded to those people “who have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind” in the previous 12 months. These prizes were first awarded in 1901; this is the true story of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and the creator of the Nobel Prize, for which he is best remembered.
It is believed that this incident, with his obituary and the vision of his legacy as the inventor of dynamite, motivated Alfred Nobel to donate his fortune to fund an annual award to give to those whose actions have benefitted human life the most as an everyday miracle.
Values outlast individuals. Individuals, communities and businesses are to be remembered by their legacies.
2020 will be remembered as a year of most disruptive times. It is time to reflect on what you, your community, or your industry have done to grow by lifting others. Lurdes de Sousa , President, Associação Internacional de Filantropia (Macau)
Macau Daily Times is the official media partner of the Associação Internacional de Filantropia (Macau).