I just got back from Edinburgh, Scotland from a three week research trip/vacation. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone to hear me say they have more history in their doorknobs than we have in our entire country, so let’s get that out of the way. It’s old. Like, WAY older than your first generation iPod.
It occurred to me during my last week there that three weeks is quite a long time. In fact, it was enough to start to feel comfortable in my surroundings, build some relationships with some of the locals and generally start to carve a little version of home out of the landscape.
But three weeks is still not long enough to get used to the fact that there is a CASTLE right in the middle of their city. A legit castle, with cannons and kings and queens and jails and crowns and scepters and anything else that word conjures for you.
But after awhile I realized the difference between a city like Edinburgh and a city like Edmonton isn’t just the fact that they have a castle and we don’t, it's what the castle represents that is perhaps an even bigger difference. Each generation is constantly reminded that the people who came before them DID something with their lives. Something permanent. And at the very least, it’s a constant reminder that they were not the first ones there. Which is always a tangible lesson in humility, to say the least.
And don’t get me wrong, I don’t celebrate their achievements to point fingers at our generation; I simply point it out to remind us that there is always a bar to be raised.
Obviously, none of us living today will design or build a castle, that’s a scale which no longer makes sense for our society, but that’s not the point. The point is that the people who did worked together to build something larger than themselves. In this case, physically, as well as figuratively.
And what a helpful idea to have in the back of your head each day, prodding you forward just a bit. Just enough to ensure you make an attempt to lay another brick in the castle you’re building with your time on earth.
Not every city can boast a landmark of the magnitude of Edinburgh Castle, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t accountable to build. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn't be mindful that we weren’t the first ones here.
It just means we have to ensure we aren’t the last.
And when you don’t have a castle to point to, perhaps working to build an entire community living in harmony and safety will do just fine.
So get some friends together and go build a castle - Get Involved Here
Jeremy Bibaud is Manager, New Media for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and likes old things.