What We Want and What We Need

“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try, you just might get what you need.”
Rolling Stones

I can’t help but think of this song today, Martin Luther King Day 2009. Here we are in the midst of the worst economic crises in almost a hundred years. The banking industry is in turmoil, jobless rates are rising, foreclosures are at an all-time high, the retail industry is at an all-time low.Every time you turn around, you hear of another financial industry takeover/bailout or more retailers going out of business: Mervyns, Linens and Things, Circuit City, to name just a few. Detroit is in shambles; even Silicon Valley standbys like Google are cutting back.

For a long time we lived in a world where whatever we wanted or even thought we might possibly want, we could get. And we could get it in multiple shapes, colors and sizes from a variety of sources. Once we had that, there was something new we could buy to add on or complement or upgrade what we already had. On the housing front, we were encouraged to buy bigger and better houses, to improve the ones we had, or to enter the home ownership world even if we didn’t really have the credit worthiness to do so.

Fast forward to today. When push comes to shove, we’ve learned that people don’t need $4 cups of coffee from Starbucks several times a day–or even once a day. They don’t need more home entertainment or computer equipment, or new clothes, or furniture, or a lot of other things.

Instead, we’ve started to focus on what we really need: A financial system that’s trustworthy. An economy that creates jobs. Basic ways to handle transportation, housing, food, etc. Friends, family and connections. A government that works with us not against us.

How fitting that our new president-elect called for a national day of service today. How fitting that tomorrow we inaugurate a man as president who brings a new approach and a new outlook and a new focus on what’s needed to move forward in this new world.

For a long time, we’ve had what we wanted. Now it’s time to get what we really need.

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