These Warriors Brought Us Unity
Wednesday - January 09, 2008
Now we’re in the hangover period.
The second week of January. It means we’re still scraping off the sticky residue of the previous year even as we look forward to filling up a fresh, clean plate.
I spent the first day of the new year like so many of you - agonizing with our brave Warriors as they stumbled to defeat on national TV. Their pain was our pain, and it hurt like hell to watch them go down the way they did.
But you know what?
It was worth it.
The whole thing was worth it - the buildup, the hype, the anticipation and even that bittersweet moment when we realized that the victory we craved was not to be.
Not this time.
It was worth it because ... well, just think. For a couple of weeks there we almost forgot about the stuff that had been bedeviling and dividing us throughout the year.
Politics, potholes, war, Superferry - it all sort of faded into the background as Islanders did something I haven’t seen in a very long time: We came together.
For a few heady weeks we were one, united, proud community. We set aside differences. We believed.
Never mind the naysayers - mostly Mainland folk who were saying that we didn’t belong in the Sugar Bowl, that Georgia got cheated and the Warriors were out of their league.
Nope, we didn’t listen and we didn’t care.
Thousands of optimistic locals dug into their meager budgets, maxed out the credit cards and made the pilgrimage to the Promised Land, where they feasted on gumbo, draped themselves with glittering beads and danced in the streets.
It was luau time in Louisiana. Until it wasn’t.
Those of us who couldn’t go and decided to worship the Warrior gods on our home altars (big-screen TVs) made preparations just as eagerly and almost as single-mindedly.
I know people who despise football who had plans to watch the big game.
Because, as my football-hating friend Steve said, “It’s not football. It’s pride. Or something.”
I believe that something was hope.
As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter that we lost in a really big and humiliating way.
What really matters is that we saw salvation - and it wasn’t an elusive Sugar Bowl victory.
It was the power of belief. Islanders stopped bellyaching, bickering and nitpicking, and started talking and acting like a team.
People spent money and energy to achieve a goal and for the most part, succeeded.
We brought Hawaii to the nation in a big way.
We charmed the national media with our culture, our ha’a, our multi-ethnic faces and our generosity of spirit.
We beguiled the New Orleans community with our aloha (and our money).
We freely and fearlessly put ourselves on the line.
If we’re not quite ready for prime time - well, we at least proved we are ready to build toward that goal and capable of achieving it someday.
So don’t you dare walk around with your heads hanging and tails tucked under.
We have every reason in the world to be proud. The Warriors deserve applause for their courage.
And we can’t lose sight of what they gave us.
Imagine what we could accomplish if we took all that energy and approached our biggest problems with the same spirit we lavished so generously on our football team.
What if we all worked together, spent our money, directed our will and determination to tackling homelessness, or educating our kids, or creating renewable energy options, or eliminating poverty?
We now know we have what it takes - courage, pride, determination and faith.
The Warriors gave us a glimpse of what could be.
Let’s pick up the ball and run with it.
Let’s make 2008 a better, happier, more powerful and positive year.
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