Nice description of something I've felt most of my life, but have been unable to find a contemporary who seemed to understand. Now that I'm near retirement, they seem unable to comprehend my lack of an inclination to retire early. The Social System system is struggling to remain solvent. Full retirement age for my cohort is 66 and 2 months. I feel it is a duty as a member of the society to at least attain that age before retirement, contributing my part to the Social System system and society at large. The nation and individuals are facing the financial troubles that we are because we take more than we give; we spend more than we make; we do not see that society cannot work when it is composed of individuals who put themselves first.

Reading Marcus Aurelius, in his Meditations, repeatedly focuses on his duty as Roman and emperor to contribute to the well being of Rome. Likewise, all my life, it has been my focus to provide for those who depend on me and to make my contribution to the collective good. I don't really know where this presumption came from. I first read Epictetus in a course on Classical Philosophy when I was 19. Denise Vause learned, to her unhappiness, of my stoicism in my resigned acceptance of orders in the Corps when they occurred at inconvenient times. While UF exposed me to the Stoics, I'd guess I probably read "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" while in high school. I know it rang truly the first time I read it.

In popularizing the term "American Dream" in 1931, James Truslow wrote "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement....It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." Eighty years later, this has degenerated into a Kardashian fantasy of Trumpian excess. JFK's challenge to Americans, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" has been forgotten in the flood of materialism and consumerism. The movie "Generation Wealth" illuminates this with disgusting clarity.

Nations and empires are great only if their members are great. America will not be great or be great again until Americans are individually great. An individual is only great if he/she has maximized his/her contribution to the well-being of those around her and her nation. To do this, one must strive for maximum excellence in body and mind.