Let us be among the very last to wish you a happy new year and offer our 2010 greetings. We’re as excited as anyone to be in a new decade–the last one was a little rough. For those of us in the United States, anyway–it seems important to remember that for billions of people around the world, the ’00s were a decade of unprecedented opportunity and a rise in the standard and quality of life never seen before. Especially in Asia, where the rise of a modern industrial economy, whatever else it brought, also ushered in a degree of physical and economic mobility most rural people had never experienced. Just a thought.
Here, of course, and even here-here in the Islands, things were mostly tense. Even during the “boom” years of the middle decade, when a global ponzi scheme was on a roll, we struggled to keep up with the bills as much as we did to keep up with constant revelations of new plots, new wars, new threats, etc. For a while, there was some money floating around, but every party comes to an end and the hangover this time has been brutal.
All of that puts me in mind of Adrienne LaFrance’s cover story this week. Her idea was borne from frustration with the standard glut of stories that appear around this time of year, the ones that pair well with editorial cartoons featuring old men and newborn babies and tend to suggest that somehow the world is starting over from scratch.
She wondered why we often seem afraid of the year just passed, and how we’re able to convince ourselves that everything will be all right simply because we’ve purchased new calendars. LaFrance was interested in breaking away from predictions and resolutions and instead exploring things that have been slipping away from us, and continue to as the calendar turns to January.
None of this is a negative trip. LaFrance is one of the more positive, optimistic people you’ll ever meet. This week, she simply has her eye on some things that not only aren’t new, but may not be around much longer at all.
It’s a good time to be aware of Hawaii’s unfinished business, too, as we gear up for the political season, which gets underway with the opening of the State Legislature on 1/21. In a theme we plan to return to in our coverage of this year’s Legislature, Hawaii and its political leaders left an awful lot on the table in 2009. We’re struggling with basic, fundamental issues around here, including whether or not our children should go to school as often as their peers everywhere else in the developed world, and whether or not an adult has the right to marry the person of her choosing. We’ve allowed both questions to become complicated, but neither really is. Unfortunately it’s going to take a lot of political will–and probably some courage, too–to clean up the mess this election year.
Here’s a sentimental thought: that if the change in the calendar means anything, maybe it means that our democracy is one year older, and hopefully one year more mature. 2009 was about intractable problems, from Afghanistan to health care to civil unions to budget crises. We can only hope–because we have to hope, because neither Hawaii nor the U.S. can afford another year like last one–that in 2010, we get a little better at solving a few of them.
We’re glad to have Catherine Black in our pages again this week after a very long absence. Black, who contributed regularly to the Weekly early in the last decade, now runs a community newspaper in Buenos Aires but tries to get home at least once a year. Her story on the facing page about new developments in the protracted struggle to end the Army’s live-fire exercises in Makua is as timely as it is important–the Army has just announced a shift in its intentions for the valley, and Malama Makua supporters are holding a fundraiser this weekend.