Call me Ishmael

 Somehow in thirty some-odd years living on this planet, I managed to be one of the few people on earth not to read (or at least begin, and promptly set aside) Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, one of the great tomes of American Literature. I was able to right this wrong, when my wife presented me with a copy this Christmas, and I quickly dove in (pun intended).

As I progressed through the pages of blubber, spermaceti, and coffin-shaped buoys through the New Year I couldn’t help to draw the comparisons every time I looked up from my book at CSPAN, covering the fiscal cliff and the impending debt limit debate.  (SPOILER ALERT!) Partisanship had us steering for white whale of victory over the opposing party, rather than what’s best for those aboard the United States.

There is an old story about a Freshman Congressman coming to the Hill, and referring to the other party as “the enemy”. A Senior House member pulls him aside, and says “No, he is just a part of the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.” However, the reality is that none of our lawmakers should be seen as “the enemy”. The true bad guys here are poverty, inequality, and a crumbling infrastructure.

At the President’s Inauguration this week, we heard a lot of overarching themes for the future of America. Themes of equality, justice, and adapting to the new economic realities of tomorrow. But if there was one all-encompassing theme for the President’s speech today it was, quite simply– there’s much work ahead of us. As we see the ever-increasing need on our doorstep, I couldn’t agree more.

But it’s something we must embark on together. In the President’s speech he stated, “We [have never] succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone”. As a food bank which receives less than 4% of its funding from government sources, we recognize, we’re all in this together. The fact is, we must do it in tandem. Government, non-profits, businesses, and the community at-large need to be a part of a larger solution.  Call me an idealist, call me an optimist.  Call me Ishmael.