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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, March 19, 2002

In search of a real leader

By Jim Shon
Former member of the state House of Representatives

I am looking for a leader, one who encourages all of us to live lives of integrity, compassion and intelligence. I want to be inspired, energized and filled with hope.

I am looking for a leader, one with courage and backbone who is not afraid to stand up for an unpopular group, belief or value. My leader is so bold as to surround him or herself with people who know more, and who often differ. Humility is not a weakness for my leader but a lei of welcome. My leader is a good listener.

My leader hears the voices of the physically, emotionally or financially frail, and invites them to partake of the banquet. The social safety net is not an abstract idea, nor a chronic irritation, but a sacred trust. My leader does not tolerate the specter of the poor and their advocates begging for legislative crumbs each year. My leader is an advocate.

I want a leader who has enough backbone to stand up to those who have no use for public schools, public health and public service. He or she will not apologize for government-paid nurses, or teachers, or professors, or protectors of the environment. My leader will not try to idolize the marketplace, nor take cheap shots at civil servants. My leader is a problem-solver.

I am looking for a leader, one who is not afraid of being taught, nor contemptuous of those who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of knowledge. I am looking for someone who is on a quest to understand both Hawai'i and the world outside our Islands. My leader sees where we have been, where we are today and where we need to be. My leader is a learner.

I am looking for a leader who cherishes this planet, its creatures and habitats, who is both saddened and angered by the wanton destruction of natural beauty. My leader will not sell Hawai'i's beaches or rainforests for 30 pieces of silver. He or she is willing to fight for clean water, renewable energy and endangered life forms. My leader is willing to forgo tangles of wires over beautiful valleys, armies of autos belching fumes and the joy of being held hostage by oil companies. My leader has priorities.

I'm looking for a leader who knows that justice is diminished for all if it is diminished for one. My leader appreciates the special role Hawaiians must play in their homeland. My leader lives aloha.

I am looking for a leader this year. I am waiting.