High: 46°F ~ Low: 34°F
Sunday, Mar. 9, 2014
Memory from RomePosted Friday, July 17, 2009, at 1:25 PM
We all want the future to remember us in some way.
I found myself in Rome, Italy, during a couple of days in January of this year. It was my first visit; in other words I hope to go back!
I boarded tourist buses and did traditional tourist things that included seeing the ancient Roman ruins all conveniently located in the tourist section of the downtown. I walked nearly seven miles my first day and over twelve miles my second day. I saw all sorts of amazing historical sites and heard time and again the names of those Romans who had changed the western world two thousand years ago.
Our hotel was miles away so the mornings and evenings were filled with long rides on mass transit. Old Rome has no skyscrapers that I could see; those types of buildings lie outside in the modern suburbs. If I remember correctly there are laws that buildings in Rome can only be six stories in height.
So, we rode block after block past residential buildings and store front businesses in buildings that rose and stopped at the same height.
And, mile after mile, we saw graffiti on the ground floor of each building.
I finally asked one of our guides about those messages written in Italian. His response surprised me.
Our guide told us that there aren't references to rock bands, political statements, or even obscene statements like we might find in The United States (his statement!). Rather, teenagers simply write their first names so that those passing by will know they are alive.
Every three years or so the city government of Rome pays for all the names to be sandblasted and cleaned from each building but within months he reported that the buildings are covered once again.
There in an ancient city where the names of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Claudius, and Nero are still listed for the modern world to see, teenagers search for ways of letting their names be seen by the thirty million who come as tourists each year. I believe that it's a universal human truth that we all want to be known, that we want others to be impacted by our efforts and deeds, and that we want those in the future to know that we were here. Indeed, we Americans spend a good fortune in having names printed on tombstones so that those a hundred years from now might know we lived.
Our "names" will be uplifted for others to see by the people who survive us. We all won't be Julius Caesar but I hope there are those who love you enough to pay for your name to be uplifted for a hundred years.
And may we never do anything that causes others to "blast" our names away.
P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.