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Life and All That
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One question is, “Is it realistic to believe that almost everyone can actually find a job that he/she enjoys?” Truly, I think it is. I believe that a person who has a job that he finds meaningful and that contributes to the general welfare, has decent working conditions and humane and reasonable supervisors in addition to being suited to his training and abilities, will be happy. Maybe satisfied is a better term. Of course, fulfilling all the above requirements is a tall order.

The next question is, “Will having everyone do the job that he/she enjoys will actually produce what society needs?” That’s a tough question. What society needs is many teachers, many grocers, many health workers, etc. Fashion models and advertising execs and basketball players, no. It comes down to education. As the educational process unfolds for children, they should be introduced to many possible paths of life, be encouraged to explore their talents and become informed about the needs of society. I think the infinite variety of human beings would find their niches in the multitude of professions society needs. No, I am not talking about brainwashing. I am talking about education including, but not limited to, the liberal arts as well as technical training.

I know someone who says, “I really enjoy doing what I do, but if I could do whatever I felt like, I’d move to San Diego, take my laptop to the beach, and write novels. If we all did that, we'd starve.”

If we lived in a world where each received what he needed and gave to society what he was able to do and enjoyed doing, he wouldn’t starve and maybe that book he wants to write would see the light of day. Not everyone wants to sit on a beach and write and those of us who want to do something else would contribute our part, too. Maybe it would even be more valuable to society than his efforts in what he's doing now. Sure, there are some dedicated beach bums among us. But not as many as you would think. Nothing to do rapidly becomes boring and unfulfilling.

Another thought: how about a modified version? During the productive years of 20’s and 30’s, the person works at whatever life work he has had to take up by training and social position. Then he retires from that career (and the next generation steps in) and in his 40’s and 50’s takes up his dream (if he wishes to do so) and writes his book and receives his needs of food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, etc. In the Hindu version of life’s stages, the older person in the final stage of life renounces the world, takes up his staff and sandals, leaves home and becomes a sannyasi. I don’t think I would go that far. But our oldest people are often an untapped and unused reservoir of wisdom and experience. It is cruel and counter-productive to shunt them out of sight, out of mind. Someone who can provide perspective and comfort and guidance to the young has a lot to contribute, too.

When I retire, I plan to do some things I've never had time to do while I've been employed full time: read to the blind and teach adult literacy. There's always a need and the elders of our society have a role to fill. Many in my generation have been -- and are -- activists and I would guess will continue to be so even past retirement.

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