The Gilded Cage

I’m sorry little bird but that was the way you were made. There will always be distance. But we will make sure your gilded cage Is resplendent. You will live separate, but we will keep you so busy That you don’t know You’re not free. — Rex Emerson Jackson

With the announcement that tourists may be able to come back to Hawai‘i without a 14-day quarantine starting on August 1, brutal reality to residents is starting to emerge.

That reality is this: the rules we are placing on visitors, to get a test declaring your negative of COVID three days before arrival, will be imposed on returning residents.

That means a resident, going to Las Vegas, for example, will be required to go and get tested, be declared negative, before coming to the islands. If you don’t, the 14-day quarantine that is now in effect for everyone, regardless, will be imposed.

This has lead to another level of messaging from the Governor of the State of Hawai‘i, David Ige, in which he is now also telling residents not to plan to travel from Hawai‘i for leisure.

In other words, if you’re a Hawai‘i resident, he is saying don’t travel anywhere. Maybe to the neighbor islands if you want, but forget about going to the mainland or any international destination.

As soon as he declared that on a KHON broadcast on Friday, June 26, and then repeated it at an interview on Monday, the 29th with the Star-Advertiser, the image of the “gilded cage” came up, thus the quote at the start of this piece.

Sculptures By The Sea 2009 Gilded Cage
Although pretty to look at and wonderful to be in for the day to day, Hawaii is now what is inside the gilded cage
PC: “Sculptures By The Sea 2009 Gilded Cage” by emmettanderson is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

If you are not aware of the term, “Gilded Cage”, as defined by the Collins English Dictionary, “a place where someone appears to live in luxury but where he or she has very little freedom”.

Needless to say, those who live outside of Hawai‘i probably think “why are you complaining, you live in luxury 24/7/365”. And in comparison, to those who live in, say, pretty much anywhere else in the United States, they would be right to think that.

But at the end, a cage, even a gilded cage, is still that, a cage.

Now how this dictum of being asked “don’t travel” is going to go down with the people of Hawai‘i remains to be seen. Concurrently, a more challenging, but better-desired plan would be to try and figure out how to allow the free flow of people between the mainland and Hawai‘i reestablished for both visitors and residents.

Let’s hope that the $90 million given to the Hawai‘i Dept. of Transportation, Airports Division, will yield better plans than to just tell everyone in Hawai‘i “don’t go anywhere”.

And force us to live in the gilded cage to achieve a yet-to-be-defined goal.