January 17, 2015
How much to accumulate? This question is bothering most of the men who are in the Gulf countries and have crossed their golden years. A few call it a day and hang their boots; but majority of them continue to toil till they are forced to go, either after retirement or when their body does not support the mind! Some even continue by taking extensions.
Ecclesiastes (Old Testament) chapter 2 says the following, which I found to be meaningful and apt.
“Versus17; so I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18; I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19; and who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20; so my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21; for a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22; what do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23; all their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.”
There are a countless number of men from my hometown whose life was exactly as described above. They toiled all their life; sacrificing everything; their youth, family life, comforts, a decent meal and in many cases evencould not practice their faith! Over and above sacrificing the biological needs of human body!
In acquiring wealth they miss to witness the childhood and youth of their children. This is the most important phase of life for a child as well as the parent. The children need the father when they grow up. The husband leavesthe childrenback with their wife to take care. Isn’t it similar to single parenting!? It is not easy for a young woman to stay alone and to manage as our men in our society back at home areinimical.
One may argue it is necessary to uplift the family memberswho are down trodden back at home or give the family a better living. I agree with such people, but later even when they are brought up, still they continue with the same kind of life.
We forget to live in the present. The rat race of accumulation of wealth continues. We don’t know why we are accumulating. When asked, we say for our future, which we never know neither anyone can predict. We forget the present and are busy working for the future. As explained by Ecclesiastes above in versus 18 to 21, we don’t know who is going to inheritour accumulated possessions! Is he worthy enough to enjoy it? We forget that the time which we have passed cannot come back. Time is like a flowing river, no water passes beneath your feet twice, much like the river, moments never pass you by again, so cherish every moment that life gives to you.
Here I want to narrate a small story. One of my colleagues during my professional experience explained his own story. His father accumulated wealth by toiling as a teacher in the African continent. He was a miser. His justification was the same; the accumulation is for my children and for their education. Fortunately both sons turned out to be intelligent and got into the most prestigious institutes of India - the IITs. The sons made their own fortune and the father’s wealth remained unclaimed. What is the use of such misery! Now this father wants to give away all his accumulation to his grandchildren, who do not require it as they are already well off. This is why I stress we do not know what is stored for us in our future!
In many cases we do not use the gifts given by God to us. We simply say 'I require this for the future of my children and myself'. We have no faith. As per the scriptures of Mathew chapter 6 vs 26 “Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?”
We often go on acquiring infinite money, assets and material things, but fail to understand that the God hasgiven us a finite time. Can we enjoy all these wealth/assets within that finite time provided to us? I think it is not. If you build a beautiful mansion and then if you do not stay in that mansion during the prime time of your life what is the use of it? It is a typical scene in most of the villages back in Kerala and coastal Karnataka. Beautiful mansions are built, but in many cases they are empty or scantly occupied by a few members of the family. It is like a show piece to please the society. We live for the sake of society by sacrificing our own happiness and pleasure. For many this becomes a trap to continue as they invest all their savings, which forces them to stay away from family to maintain the house and the styles. In many cases the assets accumulated become a cause of fight and misunderstandings among the siblings if the assets are not properly distributed. Many a time the huge asset gets into legal entanglements and none will enjoy them.
We always give an excuse saying 'what will I do if I take an early retirement? I will fall sick if I stop working'. Why we should think if we return to homeland retirement is the only option? Take up a job if you are young. I am not advising you to venture into a business. This may be a tough task as we all do not have the skills to handle the current business tricks back at home.
The question is, how can we keep ourselves engaged and busy when we return to homeland? We can always take up social work, help the needy, develop our hobbies. We need to give back to our society from which we have received so many things.There are many ways we can achieve this by means of teaching, training the young with our skills and experience which we have garnered through the years. We can actively work in at religious places to serve the community. Enhance your knowledge in your faith.
In conclusion there are infinite things we can do to pass our time by keeping ourselves healthy and happy.
Once again read the chapter 2 of Ecclesiastes, you will be enlightened!