When we hear the word “legacy,” we usually think of a dramatic, heroic impact left on the world, or a lasting heritage from those who have gone before. Many of us long to leave a legacy behind—to believe that we will accomplish some spectacular feat that will make the world remember us. The characters in Blue Beetle, however, challenged me to see the word “legacy” differently.
The legacy we leave is not always grandiose or large in scale. More often than not, our legacy is subtle and close to home, quietly reflected in the people around us. Whether we realize it or not, we greatly influence those who love us. So too, the people whom we love greatly influence us.
Discovering that this has occurred may, perhaps, be as unexpected as a glowing beetle symbiote bonding with a startled human host, but the process of sharing legacies is not so alien as we might think.
Sometimes, we leave a legacy by taking time from our day to have an impromptu conversation with someone.
When Jaime Reyes returns home after graduating college, he is unsure of what to do with his life. His degree doesn’t guarantee him a job, and he is at a loss to know where to begin. Then, a late night conversation with his father gives him a new perspective. “Everyone has a purpose,” his dad says. “You just haven’t found yours.”
When Jaime asks in turn if his father ever found his purpose, his dad laughs and replies that he is still searching. “But right now? It’s this. Talking to you, right here.”
Later, as the superhero Blue Beetle, Jaime is captured by the villains. They seek to harvest his powers, not caring if he should die during the painful extraction process. On the brink of death, Jaime remembers the moment he shared with his dad, and he finds the strength to fight for his life. Jaime wants to keep searching for his purpose, as his dad inspired him to.
Sometimes, we leave a legacy by respectfully standing up for what we believe, which can shift someone’s thoughts and help them see a new perspective.
Khaji Da, the alien symbiote within the Scarab which gave Jaime his powers, is a lethally efficient warrior. Practiced in giving her all to protect her host, Khaji makes no habit of pulling punches. During Jaime’s first battle, Khaji pushes Blue Beetle to the verge of killing. She would have murdered their foe without remorse, had Jaime not urged her to refrain.
“I’m not a killer!” he shouts. When Jaime speaks up, Khaji pauses and listens. In the end, Khaji chooses to respect Jaime’s choice, and Blue Beetle spares their enemy.
Sometimes, we leave a legacy by utilizing our past struggles to help someone face a similar situation.
Jaime’s nana keeps her fair share of secrets, but the wisdom she has gathered from her experiences reveals itself when needed most. When the Reyes family is hit with sudden grief over the loss of a loved one, Nana steps up to direct them.
She pushes the family onward to rescue Jaime, who is in danger. “We can cry later,” she instructs them, knowing that the present circumstances require action before emotion. After the mission is accomplished, Nana tells them, “Now we can cry,” and wraps her family in a big group hug to help them realize that it is okay to mourn.
Blue Beetle showed me that a legacy is not always earthshaking or groundbreaking, nor does it need to be. Every day presents new opportunities to leave a legacy; we simply have to choose to take action moment by moment.
If you were to ask Jaime at the beginning of the movie what he would be doing after college, he likely wouldn’t reply, “Fusing my body with an alien symbiote and syncing my mind with hers.” Jaime never asks to be a superhero; Khaji chooses him to be her partner rather than the other way around.
So too, we don’t know who we will encounter or how they will inspire us. We may never even fully realize how we influence the people in our lives. However, despite all the uncertainties, we can stand confident in this: We need not reach flawless symbiosis with one another for our legacies to make a heroic impact.
Proverbs 27:17 (1984 NIV)
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.