Current Thoughts (Mostly Hawaii)
Over the past week, our government officials in Hawaii have been pivoting their “public” focus from the re-opening of the local (we call it Kama’aina) economy to that of the tourism economy.
To many, an exclamation of “about time” was raised as it is very clear that no real recovery can be made to Hawaii’s economy without the re-introduction of tourism into it.
However, in observations, it became clear that quick and easy in-house solution to the myriad of questions coming out about the health of outside (and local) travelers was not to be found. In fact, in many of the statements made by public officials, the focus seemed to be more of out-of-town people rather than those residents who travel out, and then return.
Currently, unless you’re on official business, or a crew of an airplane, anyone coming into Hawaii must be health checked, their locations known, and then for 14 days, stay in isolation and quarantine. This goes for residents returning as well as visitors.
The fact is that as the other states open up, there are going to be more travelers coming to Hawaii. We already see it with higher and higher counts of arrivals to the state. Because we are a state in the United States, locking down our state from the outside is impossible – Hawaii government officials in the last two months have asked for that, with the answer being “no”.
As for locals, its been said that Las Vegas will be reopening its casino’s on June 4. In an informal ask of friends who know of people who like to go to Vegas from Hawaii, by and large it seems as soon as the casino’s open, Hawaii residents will be on planes heading over there.
And trust me, they aren’t going to give a hoot about 14-day quarantines coming back, being tested or any other regulation that will limit their ability to get to Vegas, and the tables and the machines there.
With this, it might behoove our government officials who oversee the current scheme to be thinking outside the box as to how to safely open up travel for visitors and locals.
A solution that government officials may want to explore is the idea of coordination between our state and other states – their airport authorities and governing bodies. This coordination goes beyond the plan that Rep. McDermott and Ward put forward. It would require actual conversation with other governments to see if they would be willing to agree to a plan.
As for what that plan would entail, it would need to include provisions for residents to safely come home to Hawaii for care. The fear is that if there is imposed a scheme to bar people from boarding planes on the mainland if they are declared to be sick, then residents of Hawaii could be stranded in the mainland until given the all clear.
And I am sure while some going to Vegas will be okay sticking around to play the slots more, I would bet many would not be able to stay longer than their intended visit and need to come home to work and live as residents.
Coordination may be the key. Now lets see if Hawaii’s government, who seems to have a problem with coordination in-house, is able to do this.
Dear graduating class of 2020:
I envy you.
The proper way to express this feeling is “I am envious of you”, but addressing the day and age we live in, I am choosing to express my feeling in a blunter way.
Now you might ask “why is a mid-Generation X, middle class home-owning father who is happily married be envious of us?”
Here is my answer: because your efforts and your abilities are going to be seen by generations after you as “great”. The last time a generation of Americans have experienced what you are experiencing now was somewhere north of 70 years ago, with people of that generation being labeled, rightly as “the greatest generation”.
Some of them experienced a pandemic, a depression, and even war, all back to back. They persevered and even thrived at times when the certainty of our freedom, our ability to make a buck or even keeping our families safe was highly in doubt.
Today, many of the same worries they had then are the worries that we all have now. And I think we are learning as we go through lockdowns, an uncertainty of our future and worry of our family, similar to that of what that generation felt.
And just like that generation, despite it all, there was a higher calling, a esprit de corps if you will, that calls out the fear, and demands that we, as a society press forward despite it. Queue in the now-popular hashtag “ALL IN THIS TOGETHER”.
This graduation season demonstrates that spirit, with emphasis. So, if there is a congratulations that needs to be expressed, it is the fact that you have not only persevered when the world was changing in front of you, but you kept on, achieving this life goal.
My envy also comes from the fact that not only are you able to persevere, but you are entering a world where you can make a meaningful impact. That impact, I challenge you, is that of leadership. Let me explain.
As you have been going through your academic work, you grew up watching your parents tune into the evening news and have probably seen how leadership in this country has behaved. Instead of seeing more problem solving with peers, like you were taught in over the last several years during your classes, you saw the binary polarization of “I am right, you are wrong”.
I am here to tell you though, because of what is happening now, this binary thinking is about to become passé. Think of how Instagram has become irrelevant to you because of Snapchat and Tik Tok. You will be anxious to attach to a new way of thinking, and that philosophy will come and take its place.
And I think, because of your unique position and experiences so far, you might have the answer.
You see, guys like me and those in my “age bracket,” need to learn, once again, the idea that we are now being told daily…that we are all in this together. Doing anything together requires one trait that we older people seem to have lost – the ability to be flexible and compromise for the greater good.
Up until now, we thought it was better to be polarized, uncompromising, never yielding even a minor point to the other side. We forgot how to debate, to refresh our intelligence with the knowledge of others, to be respectful for other points of view.
While our country might have lost the ability to work together, you are, instead, doing it right now. And you will get better at it every single day we are in this episode of life. This experience will come in handy when we need to find people who are collaborators to deal with the sticky issues that will be left over after the fear of COVID-19 has subsided.
Beyond that, to initiate any “reimagining” of our world – we will also need collaboration. We will need to figure out what “all in this together” means when it comes to addressing even bigger concerns – ecological challenge, native people’s challenges and identifying who we are and what we want to be.
So, the challenge is out there, the need is out there. This challenge has been laid at the feet of older generations, and even mine. But you are the one that has the best chance to fulfill that challenge and change the world.
Again, I envy you! And wish you the best as you take this challenge up. I know that you can do it, because your already doing it. The pathway that is your future is brightly lit like the sun on the beach of Waikiki that we have just gotten the “approval” to visit again.
To conclude, I’d like to leave you with a thought from a famous essay that defined the 1997 graduation year – the year I got my Bachelor of Arts – with the advice given then. It’s relevant now as it was then.
You’re not imagining…. you’re getting used to this
As week 6 of Hawaii’s work-from-home/stay-at-home rules came and went, a interesting feeling came over me.
And I am sure that I am not the only one that felt this way.
The feeling was an eerie sense of “normalcy” in all that is happening. Like whatever is happening now, we are all getting used to the new world this pandemic has created. That whatever rules are about to be imposed on “life” we are agreeing and are “okay” with it.
This feeling was affirmed from an article I read last Sunday on the CNBC web page. Entitled “Putting the economy back together again: What the future holds for Americans”, the piece highlights a sociological rule that, until I read it, didn’t even realize.
According to the article:
[H]ow long specifically it takes people to develop new habits — 66 days, it seems, a number useful when considering the current lock down.
For the record, Hawaii has been in its current lock down for 44 days. If things are kept the way they are until the end of the current lock down period, it will be exactly 66 days.
With the fact that it takes about this long to change society to view the “new” normal as regular, it sparked a concern in me that the shock of upsetting of a lot of people’s lives will be somehow blunted, and making all of what we see less severe.
Let’s be clear, even though we may want to see a new normal settle in, it should go without saying that by any stretch of the imagination, what we are in is not normal. Now whether society decides to get rid of what we felt was normal in the past to live this society, that remains to be seen.
But I will say this much – if society chooses to make this the new normal, then forget about successfully protesting for a return to anything else. They will stand on the fringe while the rest of society chooses to take what they are given and attempt to normalize it for themselves, their family and their society.
Because after 66 days, and many more to come, people are tired of change.