I retired in 2019 when I reached the age of 60. That was what we call forced retirement, something required by the law. Other professions have an older finish line: 75, for judges for example.
At 60, I felt I still had enough energy to work. But the law required me to let go.
There is this thought that when you retire, you relax. My uncle, who left for the US with his family, went back to the country to enjoy life after retirement. His pension was enough to sustain him here because he got it in dollars. A dollar in the Philippines is worth a number of times more than in the US. But when you retire in the Philippines, reality bites.
But that is good for another topic altogether. For now, let’s talk about the new year. I am starting to hear now, while writing this, those firecracker bursts that signify the coming of another year.
I always compare the new year to those kilometer signs planted at the side of the road. It merely reminds you about the length you still have to travel to get to your destination. The challenges you meet on the road are but continuations of the challenges you met in the past.
The year 2002 was difficult. Just when the spread of the Covid-19 virus was controlled due to vaccination efforts by the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte, the war in Ukraine became another global problem. Hopefully it will end in 2023 with a Ukrainian win and a defeat of Russia and Vladimir Putin.
I am confident that this is happening because liberal democracy represented by President Volodimir Zelensky and the Ukrainians is making a comeback. Authoritarian thought is on the retreat once more. Duterte is no longer president and his successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is not as fascistic in temperament. Donald Trump’s influence is waning as shown by the failure of his Republican party to grab the opportunities offered by the past midterm elections in that country.
The Jan. 6 coup launched by the far right has become a stepping stone for a legal assault by liberal democrats. We are witnessing what can be called a “return to the mean.” What I am saying is that there is hope for a liberal political renaissance in 2023 although the world economy would still be problematic.
The biggest danger is the possibility of Russia using its nuclear weapons against the Ukrainians. But if Putin falls and is replaced by a moderate leader, the world will surely be saved from a catastrophe. I hope that happens so we can return to a more normal life.
The year 2023 will therefore be a good year if the world will be able to prevent Armageddon from happening. But I am hopeful. If humanity was able to survive past challenges, there is no reason it cannot in 2003. There may be war freaks out there but there are also those with a heroic bent. And they have a way of surfacing when they are needed.
A happy and fruitful new year to us all!
December 31, 2022
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