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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mandating civility

So now we're on the verge of having a new law on the books that regulates when leaf blowers can be used.

Natalie Iwasa of Hawai'i Kai, who testified in favor of the law, summed up our feelings exactly when she told Advertiser reporter Eloise Aguiar: "I think it's sad that it comes to the point where this type of activity is legislated. It should be a matter of courtesy."

Courtesy and common sense, both in short supply in 2010. Sad, not only because we have to legislate the obvious running a leaf blower at 6:30 a.m. is rude and disruptive but because we once again need the police to step in to mediate something that neighbors should be able to figure out among themselves.

Barking dogs, loud music, blocked driveways, junked cars, overgrown trees, noisy mopeds and now, leaf blowers. They're all petty afflictions that elected officials have had to address with legislation, mostly because people are afraid to talk to their neighbors and would rather call the police.

Then again, why assume that someone so oblivious to civility would react graciously to a request to turn down the music or move a car? You like beef?

Better to call 911.

The late columnist Bob Krauss speculated that the aloha spirit was borne out of Native Hawaiians' practicality.

Huddled together on a voyaging canoe or competing for limited resources on an island, space was always at a premium and survival meant learning how to get along, Krauss said.

Too bad that we have to write laws to mandate neighborliness, instead of relying on the solid sensibility of the aloha spirit.