Other Views

Saturday, April 24, 1999

Fireworks teach
children violence

By Linda Kaawalauole


AS I read articles in the newspapers and listened to news and talk shows about the tragedy in Littleton, Colo., I felt compelled to write. I watched the Oprah Winfrey Show the other day, when she covered this horrible incident.

She asked, "How do we stop our children from committing these terrible crimes?" In response, one of her guests merely said, "We are a violent society."

Most shocking was the revelation that the parents of one of the shooters was aware that he had been making pipe bombs in the cellars of their homes, yet did nothing to stop him.

As all this sank in, I thought, now how is this different from what we are experiencing in Hawaii with the fireworks issue?

Shortly after New Year's, there was an incident in one of our high schools, in which some students planted pipe bombs in the corridors of the school. These explosive devices caused injury to their fellow students, one serious enough to cause a youngster's loss of hearing.

Burning fireworks complicates health problems for the sick and elderly, causes property and environmental damage, and threatens human and animal life. When we allow this to happen, are we not guilty of teaching violence? How can our children learn if we haven't?

I know a lot of folks will say, "Here they go again, these foes will say anything to ban fireworks in Hawaii." But stop and think. This incident is not so far fetched. It's about our children and what they learn from us.

I have followed and have been instrumental in the campaign to ban fireworks in Hawaii, ever since the last horrific New Year's Eve we all experienced.

I've heard many horror stories told by people who experienced the worst time of their lives with fireworks this past holiday season. I also attended meetings with lawmakers and gave testimony at City Council hearings on the issue.

I could go on and on about all the work that I and many others have done, and all that we are still continuing to do to stop this crime in our state. Yes, this is a crime because it affects human life and the rights of people.

We're frustrated by legislators and their "I could not care less" attitude. We, along with the police and fire departments, hospitals, various health, environmental and animal organizations, and even the governor, have come so far to get this issue resolved, only to discover that we are nowhere near a solution. So much time and effort has been spent, only to fall on deaf ears.

I believe that most lawmakers have already made up their minds: They are going to do nothing this session. They seem to lack the ability -- or maybe the guts -- to make the right decisions or maybe the guts to make the right ones where our people are concerned. So again, it's all about politics and money. How sad.

Even sadder is that should this madness continue until someone gets seriously hurt or killed, then the state and we taxpayers will suffer from the liability of lawsuits. Believe me, it will happen!

I've heard a lot of comments made on this issue but the one that irks me the most is, "It's only once a year so get a life!" In response I say, "Yes, it is only once a year. Save a life!"

Linda Kaawalauole is a Makakilo resident and
co-founder of People Against Fireworks.

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