Brenda Berck
Recent conversations about retirement remind me that when people have asked me what I plan to do when I retired, my response has been: "I don't plan to retire! I love what I do." More recently, I've added: "In any case, I can't afford to retire!" The cost of housing in Vancouver is so high that even this family of one fits the Statistics Canada definition of living in "straightened circumstances."

Still, I am well aware that there are many who suffer in circumstances much worse than mine; half the global population already lives on less than $2 a day, and there has been an exponential rise in the number of hungry people in the world. Those realities, the recession and issues raised during recent elections have caused me to see that I need to look differently at how I live.

My concern for the homeless and the poor both at home and abroad is known to frequent readers of TOPIC. However the issues I care about are now coloured by the impact of politicians in developed countries scrounging up trillions of dollars to bail out financial institutions which are suffering the results of greed and recklessness yet claiming they do not have the means to support their own and the world's poorest citizens. Such decisions make me want to say rude things-or at least to remind such leaders of James' words on dishonouring the poor (2:2-7).

The shameful facts that the child poverty rate in B.C. has been the highest rate of any province for five consecutive years and that one- third of food bank users in B.C. are children has made me realize that unless we create the will to use our skills and resources to reduce inequalities or, as James wrote, we combine our faith with works, we are condemning our youth-and millions of others-to lives of deprivation and misery, ill health throughout their lives, and social alienation.

What, then, is my new answer when I'm asked what I plan to do when I retire? I won't wait until I retire; I will begin now to practice greater generosity with what I have.

Organized (on Facebook) by a Catholic High School, Social Justice 12 class, over 200 people attended a march and Vigil to end homelessness in Downtown Vancouver on Saturday, April 25th.

I will seek youth like those students and others not so young, in the hopes that together we might set examples of what honouring the poor and living the truth of God's love might look like, no longer settling for realpolitik, but aiming again for the Truth that sets us free.

I don't plan to retire! I love what I do-more recently, I've added: In any case, I can't afford to retire!