The quiet end

In the middle of the afternoon of December 2, 2022, an email was sent to all civil servants in the state of Hawai‘i by its governor, David Ige. It was one of those messages that listed the things the administration had done and stated that it was proud to have served the state, and overall, a positive spin on what the last eight years have been like under his administration.

The title of it: “A hui hou”, meaning “until we meet again” had all the hallmarks denoting an end of a term, a lot of a job, and in some ways, an end of an era.

Email, sent by Governor David Ige on December 2nd, the last communication he will make before leaving office on Monday the 5th of December
PC: PHwSF source in the State Government

In reading the message, one thing that struck me was that it was not a message that made a reader sad, happy, melancholy, or even angry. It was just a list of things that were done, many of which had been reported on and underlay a reality that there was another list, a not-so-positive list, of things that Governor Ige had also done while he was Governor.

But that list is being left off to the side right now, at least in this piece, as some of those efforts will need to be steeped in time, and written about potentially by Hawai‘i political historians in years to come.

It could be that the reason why this message is received with such low emotion is the fact that the guy that is coming to replace him is, notably, much different than Ige. Ige seemed to relish the Russian proverb “measure seven times, cut once”. Ige governed in a style where because it took a while for him to come to a decision, the actual statement was so anti-dramatic as for it to be ignored.  

And maybe, in the end, that is the way he wanted it to be, anti-dramatic, no emotional upset, nothing that could rile people up one way or the other. Or, as how Ben Kingsley, playing the role of Mohandas Gandhi, said in the movie “Gandi”, “I want to document, coldly, rationally, what is being done here.”

He wouldn’t be the first person I have seen that wanted to have a very low-key departure from a job held. There are just some that are uncomfortable with fawning, combined with goodbyes and noting the end of a person’s chapter in life. My father was that way whenever he departed a position – he didn’t want a party, he just wanted to end his time and go home.

For Ige, the last line that can be said for him, from a podcaster and blogger that followed him for the last five years, may come from the 1985 movie “Uncommon Valor” where Gene Hackman, playing the role of the leader, Colonel Rhodes, says to the team before deployment, “There are some lines from Julius Caesar.. ‘If a man were to know the end of this day’s business ere it come; But it suffice that the day will end, and then the end is known. If we meet again, well then we’ll smile, and if not then this parting was well made.’