January 5, 2018
Retirement and Humanity
Maybe it is because Christmas with its serious doses of family love and good cheer is still fresh in my mind. Maybe because it is I am so tired of reading and hearing about all the division, hate, partisanship, and violence that we accept as part of daily life. Maybe it is a dawning revelation that, as a group, retirees, could be a powerful force for so much good and change in our fractured world.
Whatever the genesis, I wanted to step off the normal topic list of this blog just for today to try to make a point and stimulate a meaningful discussion. Those of us on the other side of the working world divide are well aware of the need for prudent financial planning and control. All of us are quite aware that our health, or lack thereof, will play a large part in how satisfying our retirement will be. Those in any type of serious relationship understand that love between two people is the foundation of everything. That includes single folks: relatives, friends, even caring neighbors can fill that role. Bottom line: we are not built to be alone all the time.
I am a Christian. That said, there has been a lot done in the name of my religion that disturbs me, causes me to wonder if some people who wear the same label have actually read the Bible. The acceptance of the central message of my belief is not that hard to understand, but difficult to live day after day.
I will assume that some of those who follow a different faith, be it Jewish, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, whatever, have some of the same feelings: that the core of their belief system has been hijacked, politicized, or in some way perverted from how it began. I guess an atheist would also struggle with core beliefs and how the world is functioning, even without belief in a god.
This is not a post about religion, or its power to do good and evil. But, I had to set the stage for what my main point is: the time of life we are so privileged to enjoy should come with a moral or ethical obligation to make the lives of those not so lucky just a little bit better.
As I look at my 2018 budget and worry whether the money set aside for vacations, or Netflix, or dinners out will be enough, I ask myself about my priorities. If I believe what I profess to believe then I have three simple marching orders:
1) Feed the hungry
2) Protect the weak
3) Welcome the stranger
There is nothing in there about vacations, re-doing the bathroom, buying a new car, or even refreshing my wardrobe for spring. Nothing. They don't make the list. Yet, I live as if they were actually somewhere in the top 10.
I am asking you to consider a simple question: as a retiree should we have an outsized sense of responsibility for engaging in the world's problems? Should we be using our gifts of time and freedom to do more than just make our own lives satisfying?
Is retirement a time when our humanity can really exert itself? Is it the phase of life to get back to work - living like our bounty is meant to be shared to ease another's burdens?
Honesty alert: My answer is yes, but I am not putting that into practice. Shouldn't part of my retirement be a more active living of my faith?
I apologize if you came to Satisfying Retirement for the first time today, and wonder whether you have been taken to the wrong site. NO, you are where you want to be. The next post will be about one of the subjects that form the basis of a retirement blog: relationships, health, finances, whether to move, how to use your time, and so on.
Every once in a while, though, I must address my inner demons and express a strong feeling.
Thank you for reading.