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What’s Your Legacy?

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By Ibraheem Dooba

As I recently watched a Netflix documentary featuring the centenarians of Okinawa, Japan, a profound statement by one elderly artist struck a chord with me. He said, “My art work will live after I’m gone.” This simple yet powerful declaration set me on a path of introspection about my own mortality and the legacy I am to leave behind.

In our fleeting existence, we often grapple with the idea of purpose and contribution. What is it that we are giving to the world? What drives us, fuels our passion, and makes us leap out of bed with excitement each morning? These questions resonate deeply with me as I ponder my own existence and contributions.

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As I reflected, I realized that my true legacy lies in my trees. These living, breathing entities are not just plants; they are my capital projects for humanity, a means for us to seek the Face of Allah. They symbolize a commitment far greater than myself – a pledge to the future, a hope for a better world. This realization is what propelled the inception of our climate action venture, 200MillionTrees.

The significance of a single tree is often underestimated. It is not just an environmental asset but a multifaceted organism that contributes to the health and well-being of our planet and its inhabitants. A single tree operates as an efficient oxygen factory, transforming carbon dioxide into the life-sustaining oxygen we breathe. But its role extends far beyond that. It is a carbon sequestration agent, capturing and storing carbon, thus playing a crucial part in our fight against climate change.

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Moreover, a tree is a sanctuary for wildlife, offering shelter and sustenance. It stands as a natural umbrella for humans, providing shade and relief from the sun’s harsh rays. It is a source of nutrition, offering fruits and nuts, and a contributor to biodiversity. When we plant a tree, we are not just planting a seed; we are fostering life in its myriad forms.

But the benefits of trees extend to even larger scales. A group of trees is instrumental in stabilizing rainfall patterns, maintaining groundwater levels, and improving soil fertility. Their roots hold the soil, preventing erosion and nurturing the land. In this way, trees play a vital role in sustaining agriculture and ensuring food security.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of trees is their contribution to medicine. Many of the pharmaceuticals we rely on today have their origins in the forests. Trees and plants provide the essential compounds that form the basis of numerous medicines, offering cures and relief for various ailments. In this sense, the loss of forests is not just an environmental issue but a grave threat to human health and medical science.

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In understanding the multifaceted roles of trees, I find my Ikigai, my reason for being. Planting trees is not just an environmental gesture; it is an act of faith, a belief in a future we may not live to see. The trees I plant today may outlive me by centuries, standing as silent witnesses to the passage of time, continuing to benefit generations long after I am gone. This is the essence of our mission at 200MillionTrees – to plant hope, to sow life, and to ensure a legacy that transcends our mortal existence.

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In this journey, I am reminded of the words of the Greek proverb, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” This philosophy encapsulates the essence of true legacy – doing something not for immediate recognition or benefit but for the welfare of those who come after us.

As I continue on this path, I am continually inspired by the resilience and generosity of nature. Each tree planted is a step towards a more sustainable and harmonious world. It is a testament to the belief that our actions today can create a ripple effect, leading to a better tomorrow.

In conclusion, the question of legacy is a profound one, inviting us to consider our impact on the world and future generations. For me, the answer lies in the humble yet mighty tree. Through it, I find my purpose, my contribution to the world, and my connection to the divine. It is my hope that through our collective efforts in planting and nurturing these natural wonders, we can leave a legacy that is not only green in color but also in spirit – a legacy of life, growth, and endless possibilities.

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Culled from Prof. Brainy column in the Daily Trust

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