Taking A Chance On Change

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - January 16, 2008
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“I guess the lesson June leaves here (and I can feel it in his letter), is always look for the positive. It’s easy to look at the negative and point the finger and assign blame, but that will not help your situation. What needs to be done here is to take this situation and make a positive out of it. We just need to move forward.”

That’s from Randy Itamoto, an old friend from high school who e-mailed me after the departure of June Jones from our now reeling University of Hawaii.

Well, he’s right. We’re mad. Make that furious. Disappointed, too. After all, we were blindsided, and overnight our statewide mood plunged from giddy to gloomy. But as Mom always said, no sense crying over spilt milk. Wipe it off the floor and keep on cooking. It’s a shame that we need a pep talk so soon after a season that gave us such a jolt of optimism. But hey, things change. What are we going to do - curl up and die?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, especially as I watch the drama unfolding on the national political stage. We have every reason in the world to be glum, and yet there has never been so much opportunity for change. Just look at the Democratic front-runners in the race for president - a woman, an African American and a crusading white Southern lawyer.

Just the idea that by next year we may have a woman or black president is reason enough for optimism. I want to pinch myself. Have we really come this far? Are we finally ready to throw off the hardened attitudes that have kept us hunkered down in partisan trenches for so long? And can we finally- finally! - move beyond racial and gender biases and take a chance on change?

I think the answer to all of the above is a resounding yes. And that fills me with glee and hope.

I don’t think I am being nave here. I don’t think it’s a case of wishful thinking. If so, there are millions of Americans who share the same naivet and who are wishfully thinking along the same lines. And it is because people are sick of being told we have to live our lives in black and white, be stridently for or against whatever the issue may be - immigration reform, abortion, gay marriage, global warming, the war in Iraq. Sick of it. Sick of the cynicism. And sick of being held hostage by the most extreme among us.

Being positive doesn’t mean being stupid. It means wanting to know what we can do, instead of just assuming we can’t. If my friend Randy says we should learn from the mistakes of the Jones fiasco and move on, that doesn’t make him simplistic. That makes him a powerful agent for the change everybody’s talking about. It means not only saying bye-bye to Herman Frazier, but also making sure the next group of administrators and lawmakers stick to their promises.

Being positive means being politically active. The way to unity and healing in this country is more action - not less. It means supporting candidates who believe we need to stick together as a nation, not divided by the politics of hatred and fear. It means uniting Americans of all races and religions. It means actually voting when our time comes. Don’t be afraid to get excited. Don’t hold back because you’re afraid you’ll be disappointed.

The test for us now as a state and as a nation is whether we will be pulled along haplessly by events or whether we will take control and get the coach/sports program/country/president we want and deserve. It’s up to us. All of it is up to us.

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