Cultural Ballast

In a large ship, ballast is the stuff (usually water) loaded into the very bottom of the ship intended to provide balance and stability.  Ballast can be taken on (to make the vessel more resistant to outside conditions) or disposed of (to make the ship more responsive).

As our culture steams ahead into the future, it is worthwhile to consider: what is our cultural ballast?  That is, what have we picked up along the way (in the name of stability) that is making us less responsive to the demands of our time?  

We can let go, individually and as a culture, of the things that hold us back.  Ballast provides stability, but if stability is not what our times call for (or if it is an illusion) we do well to eliminate it.

One more related point.  Biologically, discharged ballast water can have unintended consequences.  For example, in 1991, zebra mussels hitched a ride in the ballast water of a cargo ship headed to New York, were released in the Hudson River, and began to dominate its ecosystem.

So, when we eliminate something we need to let go of, how can we do so in a way that avoids harmful, unintended consequences?

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