Finding Meaning At The Legislature

Larry Price
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Wednesday - May 20, 2009
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If it is remotely true that suffering is not a prerequisite to finding meaning, then it is essential to figure out what just happened at the last legislative session. Surely the pundits have used all the standard tools to analyze the results, but there is one question that still puzzles the common taxpayer: What happened to the moral outrage from the silent majority about how the taxpayers were treated by their elected leaders?

There are many circumstances to consider in bringing a possible answer to the surface, none of which will suit all the disgruntled taxpayers. Robert William Fogel, the Nobel laureate economist, once noted that “Spiritual inequity is now as great a problem as material inequity, perhaps even greater.”


Way back in 1942 a man named Viktor Frankl was developing a new theory of psychological well-being. He later would call it logotherapy, the Greek word for “meaning,” and it became an influential movement in psychotherapy. What’s really amazing about Frankl and his colleagues is that they were in a German concentration camp in Auschwitz pondering the meaning and purpose of life. Years later, people still wonder why the Jewish people didn’t try to rebel against the unimaginably ghastly treatment.

This is not to compare the Square Building on South Beretania Street with a German concentration camp. The point is, meaning can sometimes grow from suffering. The drive to understand what’s going on exists in everyone.

So why was there no moral outrage about all of those bills that became law after the governor’s vetoes were overridden? There is very little media attention to the question and it is already old news and not worthy of any serious investigation. If you remember the heart-warming reception Hawaii gave to the Dalai Lama two years ago, you may have part of the answer. One of the reoccurring themes of his lectures was simple, yet profound. He said, “I believe the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we are all seeking something better in life. So I think the very motion of our life is toward happiness.”

It could be the nature of reality in Hawaii, and the majority of the people just want to be happy and not get involved in all the ugliness of the legislative process.

The simple reality of Hawaii’s political situation is we don’t have enough money to pay all the bills by July 1. In order to come up with revenue to pay all the bills and keep all promises, the legislators had to take money from the people who had it and give it to those who don’t. Yes, it’s a ugly way to say it, but when you can’t do anything about it, you just grin and bear it. They don’t care what the common taxpayer thinks anyway, because the majority of legislators have enough to live on. They have the means, but no meaning.

Hawaii’s political landscape has lost its spirituality, and special-interest groups and unholy coalitions have had a most remarkable legislative session.

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