Yesterday President Obama delivered his second inaugural address and just about halfway through he gave a clear and sound argument for our pursuits in social work:
” The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.“
It freaks me right out to consider how many incredible ideas for new technology, art, communication, and environmental understanding may have withered away because the kids who had them lived in poverty or in the shadows of trauma. I think that the President hit on something that isn’t just emotional, but that reveals the difference between long term macroeconomic loss or gain: people must be encouraged to take risks. We need to create a society that values the inventions we’ve never seen: the kind of stuff that might grow at the fringes of art and science, urban and rural, poverty and affluence.
Ideally, by ensuring one another’s basic health and safety we will collectively lift the weights of worrying about how to get our kids to school safely or how to afford our medications, and shift that energy to what each of us is actually best at. If every child who is under 18 today were allowed to fully pursue what they are best at and most passionate about, do you think we’d be better off?