This post is also available in: French
I sometimes feel guilty about my taking my retirement at 60, when many others my age have to keep working, sometimes in jobs they don’t enjoy or with physical challenges.
People kindly say, ‘don’t worry, you’ve earned it’ but I don’t think that is quite true.
Sure, I’ve worked hard, but so has everyone else around me, and mine has been mostly a life of privilege.
I am deeply thankful, but also aware that much of the wealth around me has been generated through the exploitation of nature and people and from capitalism and colonization.
This is my heritage.
This being said, I don’t regret my decision to leave the public service after 21 years. It was time to move on.
What I did not anticipate is this feeling of guilt.
Who am I to play golf or ‘do nothing’ when the world around me is literally burning?
I think philosopher Todd Dufresne, who I heard speak on CBC Radio’s Ideas, understands the issues correctly in his book Democracy of Suffering:
… Our serial experiences of catastrophic climate change herald an intellectual and moral awakening – one that lays the groundwork, albeit at the last possible moment, for a future beyond individualism, hate, and greed. That future is unapologetically collective. It begins with a shift in human consciousness, with philosophy in its broadest sense, and extends to a reengagement with our greatest ideals of economic, social, and political justice for all … either now or never.
I agree that is the best, and likely only, way to go forward.
I will work my way through my feelings of guilt and then do what I can to respond to Prof. Dufresne’s challenge.