As I sit and think about what I should discuss with us today, my first reaction is to start criticizing how we are handling the problems we are facing. But would that help the situation we are in? Isn't everybody already hurling enough criticism and feeling anxious at what is happening? Instead let's look at the problems from a different perspective.
Picture all of us in a large boat drifting aimlessly in the ocean. Suddenly someone notices a small leak with water slowly coming in. He turns to all of us and says: “Hey, have you noticed the leak in the boat?”
The person next to him replies: “Yes, but the hole is small and the water is only very little.” So everyone ignores the water sipping through the hole and goes back to his personal matters.
Later another person stands up and says: “Guess what, the leak is getting bigger and I think the water is higher. Shouldn't we do something about it?”
“No, it's only a few inches deep. It will stop shortly,” someone shouts back.
Soon another person stands up: “Hey, let's form a committee and discuss the leak. If we don't, we may have a bigger problem later.”
“Okay, good idea. Let's see do we have a budget? How long will it take to form a committee and who should be on it?”
By now the water is knee deep and the boat is getting a bit unstable with all the water in it. No one dares to move for fear of rocking the boat.
We slowly turn to a group of men huddled in a corner talking among themselves. Hey, aren't these the captain and the men we elected to steer us out of this problem?
As we glance at the group, we notice that none of them is excited about the leak, but each is calmly discussing the problem within his own little clique. Meanwhile the water is rising higher and higher.
You and I, the general public, realize that we need help quickly. Many of us have lost jobs. Our income is shrinking daily. Prices are skyrocketing. The hospital is on its last breath. The CUC keeps causing many businesses to fold because of the high cost of utilities. The pension fund is already under water. On and on. In many ways our island is sinking as the leak becomes bigger and bigger.
Yet, we all seem paralyzed to do something. Some if us have already jumped into life rafts and deserted the ship. All the while we stare intently at this group of men. Why aren't they doing something? Didn't they tell us if we elected them to be our leaders, they would guide us to safety?
Where are our heroes? Didn't we put our trust in them to help us? Where are the heroes who will stand up and accept the challenges and risks associated with the task? Where is their will and determination? Didn't we give them the power to make decisions?
I really don't believe we don't know how to solve our problems. We created them and we can solve them. We are intelligent, but we seem to have a naïve understanding how business is done.
We have had and still have many investors who come here, but for some strange reason we keep scaring them away. We fail to realize that when investors come in, they study the market with its opportunities. They also calculate the risks they have to take to recover at least their principal.
It seems strange to me that while we welcome investors, we view them with leery eyes. We feel that they will rip us off. But look at any small business. When we go into a restaurant or a grocery store, do we figure out how much the owner is gouging us with his meal or groceries prices?
The investor is the same. He takes a risk and needs a profit. But every time we solicit bids for projects or discuss investments with investors, we freeze and turn them off. How naïve! Instead we should have a government agency whose role is to cooperate with all investors so that they and we win. It should be a win-win situation.
You and I can do little except protest and complain because the real power for change lies in our elected leaders' hands. It is they who can push the buttons to make changes. We have abdicated our power to them.
In a few months we will be marching to the polls to elect our Legislators again. To date we have about 81 and climbing! Think of it-81! How many of them are retreads? How many have experience or background to be a Legislator? Many of them are merely looking for a job. And the retreads that we will vote for again feel that they are doing such a great job that they should be reelected. So the sad cycle goes round and round.
People, please let's question their background, ability, and determination to rescue us from the rising water in the almost flooded boat!
Let me remind you of the story of Alexander the Great and what he did when he was faced with an insoluble problem. In 333 B.C. as Alexander the Great was leading his armies across Asia, he reached the city of Gordium in Phyria. There he was shown the chariot of the ancient founder of the city. Its pole was lashed to the yoke by means of an intricate knot. According to tradition, this knot was to be untied only by the future conqueror of Asia. Many brave men had tried and all had failed.
Legend has it that Alexander looked at the knot, drew his sword and sliced through the knot with a single stroke. And as was predicated, shortly afterwards, Asia was united for the first time under his rule. He could have done as all the others had before him and failed. But he took a fresh approach and that made all the difference in his career and for Asia. What if he had followed the thinking of the herd? Instead he became a hero with his creative thinking.
One of my favorite heroes is the late Mayor Frank Fasi of Honolulu. He served as mayor for 22 years during which time Honolulu became one of the most advanced and favorite places both for tourists and residents.
I was fortunate to be living in Honolulu during his time in office and knew him quite well while I was serving on the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Fasi was called a “firebrand,” “trailblazer,” “maverick.” He helped to design and built the Satellite City Hall. In the Capitol district he bulldozed massive parking structures near the Hawaii state Capitol, Iolani Palace, and the Kawaiaha'a Church to create massive large parcels of green space known as the Honolulu Civic Center.
My favorite recollection of him is when the City Council and others opposed his plan to clear the massive parking structures in the area I mentioned above. Finally, totally frustrated by their stonewalling, one early morning he brought in about a half a dozen bulldozers and leveled the site before dawn. When the City Council and his opponents came to work that morning, they were appalled at what they saw. Here was the ground leveled ready for planting grass and trees.
Today when you visit that area in Honolulu you will appreciate what he did as have the citizens and tourists ever since. What if he had been afraid of the risks? Was he serving himself or the betterment of his people? Mayor Fasi battled an impacted establishment. He was an arrogant gut fighter who shot from the hips and to hell with the consequences. A true hero! Where are our heroes?
Excuse me, I must go and seek our hero. I know he waits and will come forth and do the right thing. You come too and help look for him. If he knows we need him he will come out and be our champion. Hello, Hero, where are you?
Remember the shortest distance between two people is a SMILE!
Have a great week and keep SMILING!