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HOOSER: What’s your na‘au got to do with it?

Someone said to me recently, “Why do you bother doing the work you’re doing? Nothing you or I do is going to make a difference.”

My answer is, I don’t have a choice.

I am blessed (or cursed depending on your perspective) with a stomach that hurts when I see the injustice and just look the other way.

I feel it in my na‘au and cannot sleep at night.

To be clear, William Wallace charging up the hill with sword drawn to take out the bad guys is not something I aspire to.

But I do have a voice, a platform, some experience, and the capacity to help — so I must.

And please, don’t tell me nothing we do, no action we take, no phone call, no email, no lawsuit, and no carrying signs or marching in the street, is going to make a difference.

I beg to differ and have seen changes happen in my life time.

In 1954, the year I was born, segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine was ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education.

The world has come along way since then. There’s been a multitude of positive changes made in our society. And those changes would not have happened except for the effort and work of individual people working together towards a common goal.

Yes, there continues to be far too much pain, sadness, and terrible stuff gong on in the world, and yes we each as individuals can help make life and our planet better, healthier, and happier.

Dr. King said “The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Toward Justice.”

The big wins are important but so are the little ones.

The starfish story comes to mind. “A small girl walks on a beach after a storm rescuing the starfish onshore by throwing them back into the ocean. A man approaches the girl and points out to her there are miles of beach and hundreds of starfish she cannot possibly save, the girl listens politely, throws another starfish back into the surf and says, “Yes, but I made a difference for that one.”

To those drawn to this work: Listen to your na’au, do your homework, organize with friends, take action, and never, never quit.

Attack the big causes and climb those mountains that might at first seem insurmountable, but also take on those issues that can be resolved using your own personal labor and individual focus.

Challenge loudly and persistently the unjustness of the world, and then go out and pick up trash in your community. Join in support of a lawsuit fighting injustice, and then load up the neighborhood kids who might not have a functioning family life, and take them along with your own children to the beach. Send those emails and make the calls.

Just show up.

We can and we must keep working and fighting to make a positive difference in big ways and in small ones.

To the cynics who doubt our efforts are worth the time and energy, I ask that you join us, please. Join us as we pick up plastic and the drift nets, collect food for the food bank, and take those kids to the park. Come with us also to those council and legislative hearings where we testify, and push hard for the policy changes needed.

Trust me on this folks. Our voices and actions do make a difference.

My journey down this path started in 1992 fighting to save Makaleha Springs. I know from that experience and countless others since then, that our voices matter and our actions do make a difference.

To those that are doing the work and showing up, mahalo. To everyone else, please join us. Your na‘au will thank you for it.


Gary Hooser served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council. He presently writes on Hawai‘i Policy and Politics at
Source: The Garden Island

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