By Lois Requist
Grim subjects with which to start off the new year? Not necessarily. Viewpoint is everything. I’ve already lived a long and good life. Of course, I hope and actively work to do what I can to live longer and enjoy each day.
Taxes remind us of what we pay to various levels of government that provide the services that enable us to live as we do. We could have a great debate about how our tax dollars should be spent. As citizens, we all have an opportunity, indeed, an obligation, to pay attention to how our government is being run and to do what we can to make it run better.
I brought up our citizen obligations once during the holidays. My companion said, “Well, you’ve always liked being politically active. I don’t. Just as you don’t like football.” I must admit to cringing at the comparison. Football is a form of entertainment which we can choose to get involved with or not.
As citizens of a country “of, by and for the people,” I think we all have obligations: first, to be informed, which is no simple task these days. Second, to vote. What is our duty beyond that? How else should we be involved? As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Many Americans are sufficiently comfortable that paying attention and voting is a stretch. To do more, well, as long as we are fairly satisfied with our lives, it isn’t going to happen. I leave the question to you, reader. Is complacency a problem in our country? What is our obligation as citizens?
To switch gears to the other delightful subject, how much attention should we pay to our inevitable death? Socrates is credited with saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” At some point, we should turn our attention to this ultimate inevitability and examine how we wish to spend our lives.
How can we make the most of our remaining time and prepare for death when it comes? Carquinez Village has had speakers come to our third Thursday public meetings at the library—at 10:30 a.m.—who’ve spoken about estate planning, wills, trusts, all the financial aspects of aging. We’ve also had people talk to us about downsizing and getting rid of stuff. Other topics have included dealing with loss and grief, Alzheimer’s and dementia, plus exercise and humor. You name it: if it might be helpful to seniors, the Carquinez Village Speakers Series will include it!
Beyond that, we connect, support, and inspire seniors in a variety of ways. If it’s a ride you need, that can usually be arranged. A friendly call? We can do that. Social opportunities and educational experiences provide opportunities to enjoy being with others, and these interactions are enormously important for seniors. Someone else who might remember “Fibber McGee and Molly?” While the party-line that I grew up with and the cellphone that my grandchildren use both enable us to connect to others, the differences are substantial.
It’s nice to be with people of our own age sometimes. Beyond that, being with others helps us to be aware of the world, to not be too centered on ourselves. For those who have health or financial problems, being with others is a reminder that we aren’t alone.
Just as visiting other parts of the world reminds us of how much we have to be grateful for as citizens of this country—and, perhaps, why we should contribute to its self-governance, spending time with other people allows us other points-of-view and keeps us from becoming isolated and insular.
Let’s do what we can in 2018 to make the world a better place for everyone, even with the inevitability of death and taxes.