It’s been a roller-coaster of a year, and from small-kid-time until today I have never liked roller-coasters.
Whether it be at the E.K. Fernandez Show’s weekend carnival or at Disneyland, roller-coasters were never my cup of tea. Thank goodness this one seems to be winding to a close. While still a long way from being over, at least the ride seems to have slowed somewhat, the twists and turns have leveled out, and the end of the craziness seems to be approaching.
But to be clear — we should all continue to stay home, social-distance and wear our face coverings when we do go out. We must remain vigilant until the pandemic is truly behind us.
2020 has been a double-stress-whammy with the virus threatening our health and political discord threatening our democracy.
Fortunately, this extraordinary year is coming to a close on both of these fronts. Many good things of a positive and hopeful nature are happening now, “as we speak” (or as we Zoom, which may be the case).
The people have spoken and voted. Through a clear and unequivocal majority, Joe Biden has won election to be president of the United States. I am hopeful and confident that the minority who supported the other candidate and the majority that prevailed will both now tone down the divisive rhetoric and turn their common energy and attention toward creating a more-positive future for all. Let’s find our common ground and then leverage it.
While the pandemic continues to rage across the planet, we are ending the year with multiple vaccines being distributed to our most-vulnerable and most-at-risk populations. Within a few short months, by spring or early summer, the majority of us will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated and thus protected from the virus. I’m not sure what the death knell of a pandemic drawing its final breath sounds like, but I think we’re starting to hear it.
When it’s my turn, you can be sure I will be rolling up my sleeve without hesitation. As a child I was vaccinated for measles, mumps and other illnesses. As an adult now in the prime of my life I have also been vaccinated for flu and pneumonia. These are the choices I’ve made for myself and my family, and I’m hopeful that a great majority in our community will do the same.
It’s a trifecta of good news, really. We have a new president, multiple new vaccines, and finally the COVID economic-stimulus package has been approved. Did you hear that? Am pretty sure I heard my mother at this very moment shouting out from her home on the continent, a hearty “Praise the Lord!”
And not a moment too soon. People are hurting bad. It’s all fine and dandy to be happy about a new president and the unveiling of new vaccines, but when you can’t afford rent, you’ve been unemployed now for months, or your business is crashing down around you — the extra money is certainly a huge help. While not enough, this year-end boost will go a long way in easing some of the pain so many are experiencing.
Another strong dose of good news coming out of Gov. David Ige’s office is that it’s likely the public-worker furloughs will not happen in the coming weeks as earlier announced. At the risk of sounding nonsecular, and being somewhat politically incorrect, I believe a “hallelujah” is most definitely in order. After all, Christmas is upon us.
It’s good to end the year with hope and positivity. While we still have a ways to go, it looks like this roller-coaster may very well be ending soon and there is in fact light at the end of the tunnel.
Best wishes to all. Please do what you can and reach out to help those less fortunate. Say hello to your neighbors, find someone of the opposite political persuasion and talk about food, or the weather, or the children or grandchildren. Tell your friends and family how much you appreciate them.
Stay safe. Don’t let your guard down please. Not yet.
Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.