‘Maximise Wealth Retention’ – the headline leapt out from the leaflet lying on the doormat, one of the day’s collection of junk mail. The flier was advertising a seminar, the subject of which was protecting your assets in the event that you would need to go into care. A further strapline argued that what you had worked hard for should be passed on to your loved ones, not used to take care of you in your old age.
My reaction to the headline was a gut one – a rising sense of distaste. Whilst I fully recognise the need for the elderly to be properly cared for, what caused a bitter taste was the implication that we should keep what we have earned and let somebody else bear the cost of our care as we grow older, that passing on an inheritance to our own was deemed to be a right, regardless of the cost to society as a whole. Contrasted with an earlier conversation where a colleague had shared the delight of marching with thousands of others for the NHS the two attitudes were striking in their contrast.
I fully appreciate that many people have worked hard for what they might have accrued but during this season of Lent, when we are meant to focus more fully on being disciples of Jesus, the ‘maximise wealth retention’ mantra seems to me to be at complete odds with Gospel priorities. If we are followers of Jesus what is it that we pursue and where do we find our security? Our priorities determine our decisions, our actions and the routes we take; are we being called to re-evaluate what they might be, and to walk a different path?