Finding ‘Aloha’ In The MidWest

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - January 07, 2009

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - It’s good to get off the rock once in awhile to get some perspective on everyday life. This trip is no exception.

We all know and appreciate that Hawaii is the land of aloha. Not only do we pride ourselves on our well-founded reputation for kindness and generosity, but traveling on the Mainland reminds me that the aloha spirit makes itself known in many ways.

There seems to be a genuine friendliness in smalltown America that cynicism has tried to suppress. It has been my experience that in the stores, restaurants, drive-through lines and gas stations that folks are just as friendly and gracious as the experiences we have at home.

We are in the heart of the economic hardship America is experiencing today. Despite the obvious challenges families are facing here, it’s refreshing to see the travails of the day not diminish the goodwill in everyday conversations.

I admit I get a bit wistful when I look at the cost of living here on the Mainland. I do our family’s grocery shopping, and have shared with you how I get heart palpitations walking into our local markets at home. Here are some examples of Mainland shopping:

I bought two gallons of skim milk for $5.

A pound of 93/7 ground beef cost $2.80.

A 10-count name brand of frozen waffles was $2.17.

I filled up our rental van for $27.30. Yes, gas at $1.44 a gallon.

I know we have more expensive prices for a reason in Hawaii. But it would be such a blessing to reduce the cost of feeding and maintaining our families by 30 percent to 50 percent. If you were to couple these savings with a confidence in sending your child for a public education, and the empowerment of families would be exceptional.

A consistent mantra of mine is, “It doesn’t have to be this way.” It’s not a fait accompli that Hawaii residents be subjected to such onerous financial conditions.

However, until we develop the political will to truly change our fundamental economic environment, we will be subject to the roller coaster ride we have been on for generations.

Ahhh. To be able to drive for miles and miles on spacious and well-maintained roads. It is a joy and blessing.

Rural Michigan has hundreds of back roads used by residents, farmers and manufacturers. Despite the wild fluctuations in weather conditions and relentless demands on the infrastructure, the road conditions here are fantastic.

Such a difference when at home we see roads deteriorate after a heavy rain.

I know it might sound like I am grousing about Hawaii and slamming our state by comparing it to another.

My commentary is not unlike the thoughts you may have when you go to a friend’s house for the first time. You may like their living room more than yours. Their lawn may be better maintained. They may have a pool and you don’t.

I know how the grass could be greener on the other side, but you can’t help but compare where you are from to where you are.

However, despite the great things I see in other communities, there is nothing that rivals calling Hawaii home.

All you have to do is mention Hawaii when you are in the Midwest in the middle of winter and faces literally brighten. The romance and genuine affection Mainlanders have for Hawaii is priceless.

But, it’s more than that. I am proud to call Hawaii home. I am proud of the land that brings such joy and happiness to those who have visited. I am proud that our state, one of the smallest in the Union, generates the greatest positive reaction than any other destination in the world.

You and I may not agree on everything. But, one thing I hope we can agree upon is that this very special place on Earth deserves the participation of us all to preserve the essence of our home.

Yes, we enjoy natural beauty. But, we are home of the aloha spirit.

I am hopeful that 2009 will find us, despite our differences, dedicated to elevating our community to the best we can possibly be.

The predictions for the future are dire, I know. But, with a concerted effort, we can overcome any challenge and emerge stronger in the end.

We’ve been waiting for the new year, and here it is!

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