New Year's ambitions for 2010 and beyond
The calm that follows another hectic holiday season provides the perfect setting for some reflection and an opportunity to cast a hopeful glow on what could lie ahead. Some of the yule spirit still hovers, and the new year, not to mention the new decade, offers a fresh start and the ability to leave the doldrums that defined 2009 behind.
It's true that the coming year will bring some difficult challenges. But it should also carry with it some ingredients for a healthy future. To that end, here are some of The Advertiser's hopes, heading into 2010:
• Robust civic engagement. Everyone must have a stake in Hawai'i's success. As a community, we must make a commitment to be well informed and hold our elected leaders accountable for the choices they make. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get involved; it's time to invest our time, energy and efforts into shaping the kind of community we are proud to call home. And let's make the state's dismal voter turnout a thing of the past.
• Effective leadership. Now more than ever, we must have elected officials who live up to the call of the career of public service they have chosen. Strong leadership is vital to having Hawai'i emerge from this economic crisis in a position to thrive. We need leaders who can prioritize our needs, articulate why those priorities are essential to our preferred future, and make the difficult decisions with the best intentions. It's time to step up, work together and lead.
• Top-notch schools. Can this be the year we truly see positive and transformative change within our public school system? Comprehensive and collaborative efforts that leave politics at the doorstep and focus on improving the quality of our schools that unlock opportunity and success for Hawai'i's students that's a gift that will serve our community well for generations to come. We need to make it right.
• Expanding opportunities in our job market. The Hawai'i of the future can't prosper without a diverse economy, and businesses small and large need enough freedom and incentives to create the living-wage jobs that make up a vibrant, productive workplace.
• Accessible health care. While Hawai'i already boasts an admirable record of near-universal coverage, its decision-makers can't afford to forget the importance of supporting a strong health care system. Prevention of public-health problems such as drug addiction is far better than chasing the problem after people are already hurting.
• Strong social services. In times of economic hardship, it's painfully true that those with the least among us are often the ones who suffer most. With competing interests for an ever-dwindling revenue stream, this important safety net of social services should be strengthened to endure the economic storm. Our ability to cope with hunger, homelessness and health care for the needy will define our values as a society.
• Respectful appreciation of Hawai'i's elders. Our community will soon to be faced with a population boom among seniors who want a way to live independently at home as long as possible. They deserve that right. Our kupuna also deserve a voice, not only in discussing what services they need but to offer advice on issues that concern us all.
• A healthy 'δina. We take to heart our role in protecting Hawai'i's natural beauty and fragile ecosystems, so generations to come can enjoy their riches: our nearshore reefs teeming with marine life, clean streams and lush forests, and the many uniquely Hawaiian plant and animal species now endangered. Let's protect and preserve our environment for our children's children.
• A vibrant arts community. We live surrounded and enriched by a diverse, stimulating community of the arts live music, paintings and sculpture, films, crafts, dance, performance art, books and more created, appreciated and supported by Hawai'i's own. Let's support and encourage Hawai'i's artists, who are the intellectual and spiritual core of our island culture.
• An energetic sense of innovation and creativity. The 50th state, last to join the union, must be among the first to lead through innovative thinking, whether through technology and science especially clean energy, astronomy and medicine or through inspired approaches to cultural and social issues.
Indeed, this is quite a wishlist. Yet as we push into the 21st century Hawai'i must be informed by its rich cultural past and established values. And we won't reach our preferred future without new ideas and individual ingenuity and collective contributions.
Above all, we must believe in our agility and talent for pulling through. The shards of a painful 2009 may be still underfoot, but if we can't sweep it all away, we can bring fresh resolve to 2010 and have abiding faith in our collective future.