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LETTERS for January 3 issue

By Staff | Jan 3, 2013

Inouye touched many lives

Sen. Daniel Inouye came home today – home for his final rest.

Audrey and I joined our fellow citizens at our State Capitol this evening to pay our respects and bid Senator Inouye aloha. The sky above was a deep blue; a gentle tradewind blew from beautiful mountains through the Rotunda to ‘Iolani Palace, where his political career began almost 60 years ago in the Territorial House. As his casket entered, the mood was solemn but not somber, sad but uplifting.

Each of the speakers reflected on Sen. Inouye’s larger-than-life life, but also added their own personal remembrances. And I was struck that the mark of a person like him is how many lives he touched in a very personal way.

I remember my parents gifting me a book on the day I became an adult, “Journey to Washington,” and feeling in his story the first pangs of inspiration to my own path. I remember watching the Watergate hearings in college on the East Coast and feeling so fiercely proud that a son of Hawaii was teaching those folks in D.C. the meaning of integrity and dignity.

I remember Sen. Inouye giving this young staffer of his colleague, Sen. Spark Matsunaga, more than the time of day to encourage me in my own political career. And I remember feeling so humbled to join the delegation a few decades later and to learn from the master at work.

Of course, we disagreed later over how to ensure Hawaii’s representation in the Senate in a post-Inouye world, and that cost me dearly. But somehow none of that mattered tonight; it just seeped away in reflecting on a remarkable person.

We mourn not just the passing of a life but of an era; a time in which our Hawaii and country were remade by Sen. Inouye and his comrades through sheer force of will into a more just society.

Gov. Abercrombie aptly quoted the Bible in concluding his remarks: Well done, good and faithful servant. Yes, well done, Sen. Inouye. We can honor your life best by continuing the fight into the coming generations.



An American imperative

An astute observer might wonder what possibly could have prompted the prophets from the ancient Mayan civilization to foretell the end of time. One might hazard a guess that those soothsayers of old somehow had a glimpse at the current reading of our moral barometer.

The spin doctors on the Right are every bit as adroit as their counterparts on the Left at promulgating and perpetuating The Lie to the point that they themselves believe it as Truth.

To wit, on the Sunday following the horrific slaughter of 20 first-graders and their teachers in Connecticut, a friend of mine and respected business leader here in Maui quipped, “Better hurry up and get your gun before Obama puts an end to our [God-given] right to bear arms.” The statement was mind-numbing. And though the church service that Sunday morning included a moment of silence for those massacred, I pondered the perspective which deems our “right to bear arms” of greater value than the lives of innocent kids and adults alike.

Let us consider that the level of madness now commonplace in our society could not have been fathomed when our forefathers penned it a Constitutional right to own firearms. By what measuring stick is it justifiable for anyone to be able to purchase something known as an “assault rifle” and enough ammo to take out an entire town? Would not a stun-gun/taser be more than adequate for anyone seeking personal protection? A clear distinction should be made between those who hunt and should have the right to own game rifles, and those who simply want to feel like “The Terminator.”

It is imperative for us as a nation to take a good, hard look at ourselves and be honest with what we’ve become. The “enemy” abroad, whom we’ve fervently pursued to the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of lives under the guise of “Protecting Our Freedom,” seems not as threatening to America The Great as that video-game dazed teenager next door who gets a hold of his mom’s Bush Master and mows down the very Spirit of the Christmas season.

The time is long overdue, America. Let us look first at ourselves and the things we devote our time and money towards. Will our 80-inch flat screens, “Call of Duty” video games, Escalades, and arsenal of firepower save us from the True Enemy within? Ironic it is that the very guns Mrs. Lanza purchased hastened her demise. The enemy she perceived to be “out there” turned out to live within her own home.

How many hours of “Halo” and “Call of Duty” did that deranged young man take in before he could no longer differentiate fantasy from reality? Could this tragedy have been averted by some tough love? Perhaps encouraging him to step outside once in awhile and maybe throw a baseball with the other kids on the block – though, realistically, most kids nowadays seem to gravitate much more towards the video monitor than the backyard or local park. To quote an old high school friend of mine, “How’s it working, America?”

Even in the wake of the Connecticut tragedy, we wonder if there might be a correlation between our love affair with violence in our “entertainment” and the real-life madness being played out on our flat-screens like “virtual reality.”

Sadly, there are many who will simply consider this latest atrocity as just another snippet in the nightly news. They’ll say a cursory prayer and reach beneath their beds to assure themselves that their Glock is locked and loaded, ready to protect them from the Enemy.

Lest we forget, the Bible tells us that the Lord’s return will be like a thief in the night.

Hopefully, He won’t get shot upon entering.



Renovated library looks great

You’re in for a real treat when visiting the newly refurbished Lahaina Public Library.

Thanks to Sara Foley’s leadership, along with the hard work of Norm Bezane, The Friends of the Library, Rotary fundraisers, the efforts of so many who volunteered their time and muscle, and contractors who went beyond their contract to put it all together.

We now have new shelves; clean, sparkling new floors; fresh painted walls; cool, unobstructed breezes; and an organized office. We can now actually see our librarians sitting behind the desk!

The local public library is the one place in a city or town where everyone is welcome to enjoy books, check out videos and cruise the Internet. It’s a place to develop an appreciation for literature, or just read for entertainment. In all the places I have lived since my childhood, and there are many, it is the one public building I remember most vividly.

A public library is a reflection of who we are as a community.



Motorcycle parades are too loud

Mahalo to all you hogs – hog riders that is. We sure do appreciate all eight or nine dozen of you ripping down Front Street every Sunday morning during church services. No, really – I might have fallen asleep in my pew last Sunday otherwise.

We were just having a moment of silence in tribute to the 20 children and six adults slaughtered at Sandy Hook. I would, of course, rather listen to a bunch of guys who feel a need to show off every Sunday!

Your bikes were some of the loudest I’ve ever heard… and it went on forever! So, mahalo for being so considerate, so thoughtful, so pono. We don’t mind stopping the service to feed your egos.