The Partnership

The Old Partner


15.1 “Retirement was a problem to the partners,” said an old lady sitting opposite us as we were having lunch in the canteen. “The loss of a part of their life, the loss of income, loss of friends, and the loss of being productive. And people, even the best, have to retire.”

15.2 “It was natural for us to plan our retirement on the same co-operative principles upon which the rest of our lives had been built - and we had the money and talent to do it with our customary ease and efficiency. Being already in the real estate business was particularly helpful”.

15.3 “Initially it seemed that each partner wanted a different thing for their retirement, but as we planned and discussed further it became clear that certain basics were required in common by most of the partners who decided to participate. We were just like any other splinter group for which a formative routine had been established. Our group decided to develop an estate on which to live - called The Partners’ Retreat - about an hour from the city. We spared no necessary expense, but for once found that we were unable to do everything ourselves: we used outside professionals for landscaping, lighting, and building design. Participating partners own title to the development in exactly the same way as they owned the enterprise from which they retired, and they continued to control their own destiny as a consequence. The young people who work in the place are mostly partners or partners’ children who identify with the goals of the project or have relatives living in the development.”

15.4 “What about health insurance, medics, and the high cost of aged care?” I asked. The old lady thought for a while and answered quietly. “We have a different attitude to such things. We take responsibility for ourselves. We don’t rely on the State as outsiders do. We pay our medics and they are made to know it. We carry our own insurance, which enables us to take reasonable care of ourselves. You would be surprised at the very small percentage of time old partners spend in hospital relative to similar outsiders - I think this is because we still have strong motivating interests far more so than the average club-going, porn-viewing outsider. We are always needed to care for children at this complex, and our mature, developed, independent personalities are in strong community demand. It has transpired that as capable, resourceful Christians we are still contributing more to society than we are consuming. Some of us are even earning as much money by practicing our specialties part-time. Most of us are able to live out our lives with dignity in this environment with our co-operative natures and supports.”

15.5 “But how do you pay your way?” I asked. “There is no industrial organisation to give you an income any more.”

15.6 “You must remember that a retiring partner has to be bought out by the remaining partners at the current market price for The Partnership. This is a very considerable amount of money - more than most people ever need in their old age. Our position is the inverse of what you are suggesting: partners often come to us for a loan, especially new partners trying to raise their incoming capital.”

15.7 “But in the final stages of life, when you need high-priced technology to support life to the absolute last minute…. where does this fit into your scheme?” I protested. The old lady said with a smile, “We' re mainly Christians, and we see our priorities in terms of others' needs - when one of us has had a long and full life, what right have we to consume the resources necessary for others to have the same. Each partner has to decide individually how to shepherd their capital, but generally these high-priced options that marginally extend life in a low quality way are not accepted.”

15.8 “Looking back on my life, it is easy to let something take priority that has no legitimate place in a Christian life at all. Take a good look at your priorities. Break down your average day and find out exactly how long you spend working, with your family, sleeping, eating, listening to broadcasts, travelling, and so on. What is your surplus time, and how do you spend it? These figures will tell you where your priorities are! Perhaps you don't have a choice regarding work and travelling times, and if you genuinely have no choice in an area then the time spent there is not a good indication of your priorities. It's how you spend your time where you have a choice that indicates your priorities, especially how you spend your surplus time.

15.9 “I urge you to get your priorities in perspective and order. Even if you only have ten minutes surplus each day, pray about the use of that time, and give God’s will first call upon it. I can promise you that if you do, the productivity of this small amount of time will be greater per minute than the rest of your day and you will be amazed.”

15.10 "Renounce the possibility of making a huge fortune. If we all adjusted our goals and renounced as a society the possibility of anyone becoming very rich, then we could get down to co-operating to achieve the necessary minimum of material resources for everyone in the society. Unfortunately this kind of thinking and action is limited to Christian partnerships, and we have not been able to convince outsiders that making a living should only be a component of a full and balanced life. Outsiders seem to accept intellectually that they really only need an income large enough to meet their needs, but they still spend too many hours producing unnecessary income."

15.11 "We all need goods to live and air to breathe. But people don't worship air! Condition your mind to accept goods as you accept air and place both in a legitimate but minor place on your priority list."

15.12 "To reach your potential, your goals must be higher and more important than yourself: listen to Jesus, ‘By gaining life one will lose it; by losing life for my sake, one will gain it’ - Matthew 10:39."

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From The Partnership, by Graeme Doel.

Converted to HTML by Simon Grant, 2003.