For many the impending fiscal cliff isn’t all that important. That’s because so many of our most vulnerable citizens went off the cliff years ago. The recession that came about in 2008 continues to push people off the cliff. Failed mental health reform continues to push people over the cliff. Inadequate discharge planning for people coming out of prison continues to push people off the cliff. For those who already fell, climbing back up the cliff is often an impossible feat when facing such daunting obstacles as high unemployment, lack of jobs, low paying jobs, and not enough community support. How can one expect not to fall off the cliff when they’re teetering on the edge with no safety harness? How can one climb back out of despair when they face an impenetrable mountain without even a rope? These are hard questions made harder by the realization that we’re talking about actual human beings – not statistics but parents, teachers, bus drivers, waitresses, and children.
But all is not hopeless. In Charlotte, we have an incredible faith community. We have strong civic and philanthropic leadership. We have a strong network of non-profits that work together behind the scenes more than anyone will ever know. I think we’ll hit our stride in 2013. I’m optimistic about our collective ability to solve the challenges our community faces. At the very least, I believe that the last several years have taught us how to be prepared for the cliff. We all know we have to be in it together because for our community to succeed those among us struggling the most have to be given an opportunity to succeed as well.