Retirement is often the time when people look back on their lives and record their personal history, often in the form of a memoir. While these are useful tools for recording the things one has done during a lifetime, they don’t often reflect who the person was—his or her character.
Taking stock of one’s values and beliefs is an insightful way to define a person and, more importantly, why the person is that way. Writing an ethical will is a great way to do this. An ethical will is not a legal document. It is, instead, an informal document that one writes to bequeath to one’s family and friends the principles he or she holds dear.
Many people choose to share an ethical will with family and friends well before they die, as a tool for deeper understanding. Barry K. Baines, author of Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper, defines ethical wills as “a way to share your values, blessings, life’s lessons, hopes and dreams for the future, love, and forgiveness with your family, friends, and community.”
The Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center (SAC) will hold an ethical will writing class beginning Sept. 30. This three-session class will teach the meaning of ethical wills, how to write one and what to include. The class is open to Cleveland Heights residents age 60 and older. For more information, call 216-691-7377.
The City of University Heights is a lecture that can help seniors take inventory of their current moral and ethical beliefs, as well as guide them in making positive changes, if necessary. Louise Prochaska, chair of the theology and philosophy department at Notre Dame College, will present a talk titled “Moral Character and Conscience, and How to Make a Good Moral Decision” on Aug. 4, 2–3 p.m., at University Heights City Hall.
Prochaska will explain how moral character and integrity are developed, and what defines good and evil actions. She will also explain why people have both virtues and vices, and how a person’s actions can affect not only that person, but also his or her family, friends and community.
Basic self-awareness of one’s values and beliefs can inspire positive changes in one’s character. Prochaska will explain how conscience is developed, and what happens when we choose not to follow it. “Your free choice determines whether or not you listen to your conscience,” she said. “We are free to choose, but we are not free from the consequences.”
Prochaska’s lecture is free and open to all seniors, whether they live in University Heights or not. For more information, call 216-932-7800.