Have you ever listened to Songs from Drella?
The penultimate verse:
They really hated you, now all that’s changed
But I have some resentments that can never be unmade
You hit me where it hurts I didn’t laugh
Your Diaries are not a worthy epitaph
Your legacy is all your atoms and bytes.
When Joe Paterno died on Sunday, I wasn’t so much surprised as saddened by all the glowing words being said about him. Calling him a “flawed hero,” or talking about how he handled the Penn State scandal “with grace” (seriously?). Somehow I don’t think this is what my high school English teacher had in mind when she was teaching us about Shakespeare and Aristotelian tragedy.
You can be really great at something (for Warhol, art; for Paterno, winning football games), but you don’t get to write your epitaph. And the consequences of your words and your actions all become a part of your legacy.
Your brand, at the end of the day, is what other people decide it is.
Here’s the question: What would you like your epitaph to be? Will it?
Photo by Podknox (Flickr).