Ma, like everyone, grapples with time

By Daniel J. Bauer

I made the following casual observation in an email to a friend in the United States this week: “Not much new to report. The new semester is fairly routine thus far, if anything can be ‘routine’ about my last semester in 27 years in teaching.”

Two hours later, I saw the title of an interesting editorial in a recent issue of The China Post. “In the art of quitting,” read that title, “timing is absolutely everything” (3-6-13 p. 4). The editorial dealt with the large question of whether President Ma Ying-jeou should drop his quest for another term as chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The writer referred to a bevy of tough poll results on the president, mentioned controversy about the wisdom and even legality of another term, and even opined that Chiang Kai-shek (gasp) should have recognized when to retire, but did not. You can only mention a certain number of famous folks in a brief piece of journalism before you overwhelm your reader. So, I don’t hold it against this newspaper that the editorial passed over the example of former Pope Benedict XVI. Presumably everyone on Planet Earth knows his was our most recent dramatic example of someone hanging up his spikes and quitting. My university demands that in normal circumstances an associate professor retire from full time status at the age of 65. When this semester rolls to an end, my “official” career as a college instructor will also end. Truly, these are days full of contemplation for me. A few days ago, I participated in what was almost certain to be the last hiring committee meeting I’ll ever attend. One of the people my colleagues and I recommended hiring is the person who will take my place. This kind soul will inherit my office, bookshelves, file cabinet, my computer, my desk, and my chair. This lucky person (no sarcasm, I assure you) will also inherit quite a passel of my students.