Thoughts On The Future: Retirement and Beyond

Wow, I just realized I haven’t written a blog since last February. I think it is time to gather my gowns and start to run again. Much has happened over the last few months, and I have made many decisions about my future. As an older gentleman, a true Boomer, I think it is time to think about how to move to the latter phase of my life. The question I have right now, is what do I do?

First, I know I will retire. In fact, I have let my boss know that next May I will not teach full time any longer. However, I would like to teach part time in our adult program. This is not a given, they may not want be to teach, but I do need to figure out how to contribute in my latter years. I am not one to just sit around, and one can only play so much golf.

Second, I know I am going to write. I like to write, and I think I can put my thoughts into words that just may encourage people. Another question in my mind is what do I write about? Also, what gives me the right to put information “out there,” and is there anyone who will be willing to read it? As, I think about Strength’s Finder, and my top five strengths – I remember that harmony is one of those gifts. So I think by focusing my writing on harmony, finding equilibrium between opposing ideas, just might be where I should focus.

I am severely conflicted in regards to the contradistinction found today in the church, politics, and business/academics. Within the church there is a struggle in the understanding of liberation theology. In the most polarized constituents found within the church the left is focused on an interfaith universalism that ignores the centrality and distinction of believing in Jesus Christ, while the church on the right is focused on just the liberation of people from sin and appears to have very little care for the marginalized people of our society. Again, these are the extremes, which seem to me to be feeding the increase of apostasy in our nation. This juxtaposition is an affront to my desire for harmony, and therefore seems like something I can write about. Having been a member of the Church for 44 years I have seen many different expressions, and having worked with people who I would consider leftist believers I have an opinion that I am willing to share.

The second area of disharmony is in our political world. Democrats and Republicans are tearing our political system apart. However, I think it is more than just political parties it is how people are looking to political ideology as the savior of our country. So-called progressives have become the intolerant tolerant, who do not see anything positive coming from those with more conservative viewpoints; while conservatives are responding to this moral prejudice by voting for a President that was just not the other. So instead of having valuable conversations as reflected in the past within our Democratic Republic, we talk past one another and try to stop the other from talking. In the past it was trying to stop Angela Davis, now it is trying to stop Ann Coulter. Both are symbolic of the issues within our country. Having been a voting citizen for almost 50 years, and one who is proud of being middle right, I have something to say about this.

The third area that I would like to write about is the relationship between business and academia. Having worked in industry for 48 years, and taught in academia for 20 years, I think I have an opinion about both that just may be able to start a conversation. The business world sees academia as an environment desiring safety, and the young people that emerge from these safe zones are snowflakes that are not able to critically think and make decisions. Although this generalization may be true in some cases, most of the young people I work with are trying to get ready for a meaningful career. Academia, however, sees Business as only wanting to exploit people so the owners of Capital can get richer. That may be true in some cases, but not most. Most business people are proponents of Stakeholder Theory. They want their businesses to be successful providing them with a good life. They want to do right for their communities and employees, while providing a product or service in the best possible way. Most business people I know what to do well while doing good. I definitely have something to say about that.

So there you have it. This will be my future. I was waffling the other day about retiring. However, I had a great conversation where the person I was talking with said, “Roger, what do you want?” I left the meeting and I was at peace. Time to move on to my new endeavor.

To properly define this new direction, I would like to display a philosophical foundation, or theoretical framework, for my subsequent blogs. Think of an inverted triangle. The top two vertices are Democracy and Capitalism. The vertex on the bottom of the inverted triangle is Faith, and in my case it is faith in Jesus Christ. It will be through this lens that I will explore the paradoxes associated with the church, politics, and business/academics. To begin the new focus I will define my political/economic belief as Democratic Capitalist.

Let’s define terms. What do I mean by Democracy? The word’s foundation is from Greek language. It means rule of the people. When I use the term, I am thinking of the classic definition of “a system of government by the whole population or all eligible members of a state, typically through elected officials.” I am thinking of the Constitution as the foundation of this democratic system, and the evolution of this system to ensure that all are enjoying the freedom associated with being a citizen of this democracy.

The second term is Capitalism. There are many terms that are used by people that generate strong emotions, but the word Capitalism demonstrates the polarization of wealth in this country. When I use the term I am thinking of the classic Ayn Rand definition, “Capitalism is a social system based on the principle of individual rights.” However, we need to be a bit more specific. When I say the word Capitalism I mean an economic system where the means of production are privately owned, where individuals have the right to own property, where people have the right to earn money, where people have the right to buy what they want to buy, and where sellers have to compete for people to buy their products or services.

Now that I have defined terms, let’s put the terms together. Democratic Capitalism represents the combination of three systems into one. I will be relying heavily on Michael Novak for this part of my blog. Novak states, “What do I mean by democratic capitalism? I mean three systems in one: a predominately market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all.” This is why I use the inverted triangle as symbolic of this system.

I truly believe that our country has experienced great opportunity because of the combination of Democracy and Capitalism. As Novak states, “ In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one,” it is by combining the three, not one or the other, that we can ensure people have a full and rich life.

In his book, Reinhold Niebuhr and the Economic Order, John Carlson illustrates Niebuhr’s thoughts that Capitalism should die. In 1933 Niebuhr, in regards to Capitalism, said “it should die because it is unable to make the wealth created by modern technology available to all who participate in the productive process on terms of justice.” Carlson responds to this, “the claim that capitalism is dying is dubious given that this global economic system reigned even before the fall of the Soviet Union, and has only accelerated further since communism collapsed as a tenable global economic model.”

It is my argument that the problem is not the system, but the application of the system. This is where my faith perspective comes into play. I recognize the ability of human beings to take something good and make it bad; thus the need for this three-fold system, Democracy, Capitalism, and a Faith foundation. The Faith foundation, in my system it is Christianity, provides external accountability for actions. Because there is an external judge who controls my future I will think about my actions. As I adhere to the tenants of my faith, I will ensure that I apply those tenants to my political and economic practices.

I think this is enough for now. I will be writing about this over the summer. One last thought about my future. Never try to hold on to something too long, it may go stagnant, and it just may keep you from that fresh new thing that wants to emerge in your life.

And that is my thought for the day!

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