Seeing the new independent film "Ballast" several days after Barack Obama's inauguration was a stark reminder that, once the party is over, economic and social change will be hard won.
According to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, ballast represents "a heavy substance placed in such a way as to improve stability and control" or "something that gives stability (as in character or conduct)".
If ballast is indeed what this country needs in order to lift those who live in abject poverty out of their plight, then it will take a lot more than hundreds of billions of dollars thrown at banks and car manufacturers to accomplish what looks to be, at best, a Herculean task.
In many rural, urban, and---let's face it---suburban American homes, putting food on the table and into the stomachs of our children hasn't been so difficult in a generation. When it comes to making mortgage payments or keeping up with rent, that is a task made even more challenging by the scores of jobs being slashed each week as prices rise and families struggle to keep up. People with Master's degrees are applying at Wal-Mart and Starbucks, and retirees eke out their survival by joining the ranks of the unemployed at job fairs.
In the deep South, in California, in Harlem and Detroit, most everyone is waiting to see how the new economic recovery plan will create jobs, stimulate the economy, and bring some sorely needed ballast to a nation afloat in uncertainty.
Just as we all need stability and accountability in our personal relationships and communities, we also expect the same from our government and our leaders. With a new leader wielding the power and speaking from Teddy Roosevelt's proverbial "bully pulpit", all eyes are turned towards Barack Obama and his stated desire to reverse the course of trickle-down economics, creating instead a trickle-up economy that first feeds those in most dire need of an infusion of hope and hard currency.
I am personally waiting on the edge of my seat, hoping with all my heart that whatever is undertaken will accomplish what needs to be done. There are vulnerable people among us who need the succor of the state and a way out of their economic plight. May the tears and hopes of last week's celebrations give way to the hard work and clear decisions that lead us to where we truly need to be.
(c) 2009, NurseKeith