The images of recent violence and the storming of the Capitol in Washington D.C. are everywhere, and impossible to avoid. Unfortunately and very sadly, threats of future and imminent violence have also arrived even here in Hawai‘i.
My hope is that we are better than that. I hope and, yes, I pray that here in the land of aloha, cooler heads will prevail.
Truthfully, I cannot imagine our community devolving into the mob we saw in action just a few days ago. However, as is true of every community, we also have sprinkled throughout the islands our own share of zealots, hooligans and would-be insurgents.
Therefore, we must during the coming days be vigilant in our pursuit of genuine civic engagement and push back against any and all conversation or actions that advocate violence.
All of us, regardless of political orientation and regardless of who we supported in the recent elections, must be united in opposition to violence and bigotry.
Free speech is a cherished and valued right we all are entitled to. However, during these times when the tinder is so dry, I encourage all to just stay home. Exercise your free speech in a responsible manner on your keyboard if you must, but please resist adding sparks or fuel to the fire.
We cannot allow the thugs and the bigots to yank our chains and goad us into accommodating their goal of violent confrontation.
Our conversation must turn soon to solving the common problems and challenges the vast majority of us agree on.
Supporting small businesses and creating jobs, good jobs that pay a living wage, is a priority for most. We need to protect our natural environment. Our children deserve a quality education. To pay for our public and societal needs, we must have a tax structure that is fair and equitable. And we must have ethical, transparent and inclusive government leadership.
Most of us will profess to support these fundamental goals, and there are many others that we share as well. Reasonable people with good intentions may differ on “how to get there,” but most will agree as to where we ultimately want to go.
We must chart a path at least in our immediate community, through the national anger and divisiveness. Remember, whether you have staked out ground on the left, the right or in the middle — we are all related.
Coming together starts at home and in our own neighborhoods and communities. We must model the values we want to see in the world, and we must strive to accept a diversity of opinion based on sound information, offered by reasonable people with good intentions.
I believe that good people, ethical people of high integrity, can look at the same facts and the same circumstances and come to different conclusions.
But to be absolutely clear, there is no room, no space and no forgiveness for bigotry and violence. None. We do not agree to disagree on these points.
And those who cross the line must be held accountable.
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.