Your Legacy/Martin Rosenfeld, J.D.

Posted on March 10, 2019

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Whenever a US President reaches a second term, the article du jour seems to center about what that person’s legacy will be. How should this person be remembered? What will history think of them? The concept of legacy has surprising nexus to dealing with stressful disputes and negotiations. How it might work will be illustrated by reference to the work of David Brooks of the NY Times.

In 2015, Mr. Brooks wrote a book called “The Moral Bucket List”. In this work, Mr. Brooks divides virtues into two categories. There are resume virtues and moral virtues. Although we spend more time in life trying to develop our resume virtues, we tend to believe that eulogy virtues are more important. How do we wish to be remembered after our life has ended? Hopefully, our eulogy will have less time spent on the jobs we had, with more emphasis on the type of life we led.

If you are involved in e.g. a divorce battle, it is highly likely that having an expert litigator will get you a better financial deal. You will pay less for child support, or for alimony, or a more favorable property split, etc. But at what price will this agreement come about? What will your friends think of you in the future, if you have engaged in contentious battle? What will you children think of you in the future. What, indeed, will you think of yourself in the future? Money is not everything. Moral virtues may very well be so. Want to run up a bucket list of virtues? Seek peace and not necessarily the bigger war-chest. Mediate don’t litigate.

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