Believe it or not, a non-political Thanksgiving message is indeed possible and especially needed today and in these times.
While it sometimes feels as if we are surrounded by pain, or tragedy and sorrow, taking a day or two to rest and reflect on the good in the world is essential if we are to avoid being buried in the darkness.
When children are lost and families plunge into despair, seeing the good in the world may seem an impossible task. My own father never made it to the age I am today. And to the great sadness of my family, my older brother left the world far sooner than anyone thought possible.
On days like this, those of us who are fortunate to live in a privileged bubble without hunger, sickness, pain or sorrow, often feel guilty and undeserving of our good fortune.
In my core, I know that those of us who have more are bound to offer our hand to those who through no fault of their own, have less. We are all in this together, and the notion that we live in a world where it’s “every man/woman for himself/herself” is one I reject.
If we each track our genealogy back far enough, you will find that in fact we are all related.
My heart, and yes my prayers as well go out to those who today might not feel that celebrating is possible. Life has dealt me moments of darkness and great stress as well. But somehow I survived and grew stronger, pushed onward by the basic knowledge that the sun always comes up the next day. My mother would tell me also that God had a plan, and that things happen for a reason — though more often than not I could not fathom what that plan or reason might be.
I am blessed today with a loving and growing family. I live in one of the most beautiful places imaginable and am surrounded by friends and colleagues united in the common purpose of making our world a better place. I cannot remember the last time that I awoke to anything less than total excitement about the day ahead.
Yes, I have much to be grateful for, and many people to thank.
It is often said that for people who work in the political sector, “It is a thankless job.” For me, I have found this to not be the case. While the work is not without its stress and sometimes vocal detractors, the community feedback I have received over the years and continue to receive is overwhelmingly positive and full of aloha.
Please know that I am deeply appreciative of the many, many people in our collective community who have supported and helped me over the years. From those of you who have voted for me in the 10 political campaigns, I have been involved with, to those who continue to help and support the work I am doing on Kauai and throughout the state.
The faith and confidence you have placed in me, and the honor you have given me via your personal help and support — make me a better person and helps keeps me on track.
I tell people that I am stuck in a positive feedback loop — and you are part of it.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Reach out and offer your love and aloha, and whatever support you are able — to those in need and who may be suffering.
Hug your family, hug your friends — tell all who care to listen of your thanks and gratitude to simply be alive.
Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.