Community of ohana can achieve greatness
Reflecting on the events after the glorious football season our University of Hawaii Warriors achieved, it has become clear that some important messages are being lost amid the wreckage. When the smoke clears, the dust settles and the desire to point fingers fades away, some of the faces will have changed, but the issues will stay the same. Our educational facilities, from the university on down to our elementary schools, need massive improvement in every department. Too long we have approached the subject from the wrong angle -- top down instead of bottom up.
Every Election Day we elect leaders who make the same promises but ultimately fail to make any substantial improvement in the issue we claim most important to us: our educational system. However, we leave them without the financial means to do so. Unfortunately, fiscal responsibility in a home, business or government means that sacrifices need to be made or more income brought in to achieve our goals.
Our football team under the leadership of coach June Junes brought the entire community something we've longed for a great while: PRIDE! Our hearts swelled, we bought the T-shirts and cheered them on. We celebrated the spirit of "ohana" that Coach Jones instilled in these young men; which allowed them, through a little bit of skill and a whole lot of grit and determination, to achieve a previously unthinkable dream and soar to new heights. Truthfully, most of us who basked in the glory of their success and claimed it as our own had little, if anything, to do with paving the way for its achievement.
"Ohana" is a concept unique to our islands. An intense desire to belong: to be part of something bigger than oneself and revel in the increased sense of self-esteem that is a byproduct. However, true "ohana" is also about reciprocity, or paying forward the gifts we've received and participating in building our community.
Great leaders, unfortunately, are few and far between. They are those who have a clear and specific vision of a brighter future, a refusal to accept the status quo if it is less than desirable and an uncanny ability to motivate their constituency to realize the dream.
It is clear that changes need to be made. As a community we have options. We don't have to accept the status quo by sitting back and waiting for those rare individuals who can lead us to greatness. We can begin to make changes on a grass-roots level. We can get involved in helping to repair our schools, developing and contributing to booster clubs, revitalizing our parks and playgrounds, giving as little as a dollar to our UH foundation. If we all sacrificed by not purchasing one little thing that we probably don't need anyway and donating the money we've thus saved to our school system, we could begin to create a community where we could shine like no other!
As June Jones and our Warriors showed us this past season, a little feel-good goes a long way. It took us all the way to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans this year! Dare to dream of where else it could lead if we all became more than stowaways on a magical carpet ride.
Lisa Seng Dooling, a systems analyst for the state of Hawaii, lives in Honolulu.