We must paddle together or sink in economic storm


POSTED: Thursday, January 22, 2009

Speaking before a crowded ballroom filled with ears hungry to hear solutions to the current local and global economic crisis, Hawaii House Speaker Calvin Say told attendees of the 2009 Filipino Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast that the “;canoe to recovery will only make it if everyone aboard makes the effort to paddle.”;

We would do very well to heed these words in days to come, as I believe that only a responsible, informed and proactively engaged community can secure Hawaii's goals of a stronger, prouder, more prosperous future.

There are three key areas of responsibility which we must not neglect in 2009:



The elderly, disabled and needy are being hit particularly hard by the economic slowdown. Many social services that government cannot afford to provide or is altogether incapable of performing are already being met by nonprofit charities and religious organizations all across Hawaii.

Hawaii's greatest strengths are generosity and compassion, which are central pillars of the local culture. We can still make ends meet and help people who are crushed by the crisis by donating to charities, volunteering our time and making ourselves available to serve other people.

With reduced tax revenues, government social programs are not going to be as effective or comprehensive as they once were. We need to pick up the slack by doing our part for one another and adopting a “;can do”; attitude towards our fellow man.



The only way that our elected officials will know how we feel and what we need in 2009 is for the people to come out and make their voice heard. All of us have probably had more than an earful of office water cooler sermons and dinner table rants of co-workers, family and friends disappointed or concerned about the latest happenings in government.

If we are concerned about these issues, we have to communicate them to our elected officials by showing up at City Council and state Legislature hearings. Many bills with negative implications towards our prosperity and freedom pass committees simply because no one comes to testify in opposition. If we want the best for our children and their children to come, we have to be willing to take time out to participate in government hearings and processes.

Persons who work busy schedules don't even have to show up in person - both City Council and state Legislature hearings allow written testimony to be submitted in lieu of actually sitting before a microphone.

This is our Hawaii; we need to have the courage and initiative to keep it our Hawaii by speaking up and speaking often.



Martin Treptow, a soldier who was killed in World War I, was found to have on his body a diary in which he inscribed the words, “;My Pledge: America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”;

We will all need to do our part by working hard, saving money and setting realistic goals and expectations for ourselves and others. Part of getting the bills paid off is spending on a budget and learning to cut where necessary. We must not live life with the attitude of “;I need someone to bail me out”; - we need to help others help us by making smart decisions and doing our part.

Recovery is around the corner for Hawaii if we all do our part. It's been said that in order to discover new worlds, we have to be willing to lose sight of the shore. Let's all agree to get in the same canoe like our ancestors once did, and let's start paddling together for our freedom - and our future.


Daniel de Gracia II is an ordained minister. He lives in Waipahu.