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The adage that nothing is easy or free comes to mind when I reflect on the current economic situation. I see this time as more of a moral and spiritual opportunity for our country than a crisis. The crisis occurred as we spent our children's future for our own satisfaction and enjoyment. I do not mean, personally, but collectively we spent as if we could not get enough of anything and everything. What was even worse was the stress and anxiety that accompanied that greedy and gluttonous era. The social standard said not only could you be happy with a place to live, but everyone needed a house and often a big house that had all the bells and whistles. We craved name brand clothing, purses, cars, all in the name of vanity and keeping up or ahead of the Jones'. Personally, I am a little relieved to see that era of competitiveness and stretching to keep up passe. The pressure to acquire for the sake of saying one had such and such or bought it at such and such is not only gone, but now out of style. We can now focus on what we are grateful for and I do not mean a Coach purse. I mean family, the familiarity of home and the comfort it brings to be with those we care most about, friends, work and good health. I truly believe that we are being given the chance to appreciate the really best things in life before it is too late.

We need to maximize this moral opportunity by getting to know our neighbors and in doing so join together to take responsibility for our country. We can do this by talking to one another and discussing how to solve our problems and how to build a better future for our children. My personal commitment toward this end is in my role in overseeing an educational community program, I am inviting others to collaborate and seek answers to our collective problems together. We will start with facilitating a book discussion program aimed at bringing together community leaders to look at how we work together to solve our economic, environmental and human problems. The book we have chosen is Tom Friedman's 'Hot, Flat and Crowded, Why We Need a Green Revolution Now."

I am not a pollyanna. I realize many people are out of work and they are in a real survival mode. but, as a country, I also believe we have been fat and sassy for too long. Each of us needs to think and act in survival mode. We need to find that entrepreneurial spirit that brought many of our ancestors to this country. That spirit lives in each of us, the will to work hard, find solutions, help our neighbors and collectively do the best thing for the greater good is in our DNA. It might need some dusting off, but it is there. There is no time like a fall in an ice cold river to bring us to our senses, force us to really examine our lives, our values and then get to work on solutions that serve all of us.