Bob Dylan sang that regardless of your station in life, “You gotta serve somebody…”
My question today of those who serve in public office, who aspire to future election, or who serve now in other positions of public trust – who do you serve?
When push comes to shove, whose side are you on?
Do you believe that we’re all in this together, or that it’s every person for themself?
Do you believe we have a collective, personal and societal obligation to help the weak and those with less, or for you is it only the strong that should survive?
Do you believe everyone deserves a seat at the table, bigotry is unacceptable, and diversity must be embraced?
We all look at the world through our own unique lens. We all have biases and as much as they might try our government decision-makers cannot be all things to all people. Yes, we must strive to be balanced and fair. But at the end of the day, there are many decisions that can go either way.
Do you see those folks living under the bridge and in the bushes as a blight on our community, or as unfortunate souls in need of our help and support? Do you brag to your friends about how you worked 2 or 3 jobs to get to where you’re at, and they should do the same? Do you say to yourself and others, “It’s their own damn fault”? Or do you believe one job should be enough, that everyone deserves access to housing that is affordable, and that maybe, just maybe it’s not their own damn fault?
Is your inclination to favor the needs of those at the top, confident their success will “trickle down” to everybody else? Or do you believe that those who earn more, own more, and consume more, should pay more and carry a greater share of societal needs?
Are you willing to increase taxes for those at the top in order to fund health care, housing, education, and environmental protection?
Are you willing to say no to developers seeking to build projects that have significant negative environmental, cultural, and societal impacts? Yes, I’m referring to the 30-year-old Coco Palms Resort debacle, and oh so many other poorly planned and unneeded developments.
When the health impacts of dangerous but commonly used chemicals are made known, are you willing to push back against those that use and profit from them? Yes, I speak of pesticides like glyphosate and so many others. Read this excellent and short Civil Beat piece: Are Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Harmful To Humans?
Do you believe all workers deserve a living wage, paid sick leave, and retirement plans that allow them to grow old in dignity?
Do you believe climate change and global warming represent an existential threat to our planet, or is it all much ado about nothing and we should just move along, balance the budget, and worry instead about the potholes and speed bumps?
These are questions we should ask of all who aspire to serve in positions where these decisions are made. It’s not so much what political party you belong to, nor what high school you attended, who your aunty is, nor even about how nice a person you are, how hard you work, or how many events you show up at.
It’s about the core of your values and your bias.
I opened with a song by Bob Dylan and will close with one by Pete Seeger.
“They say in Harlan County, there are no neutrals there.
You’ll either be a union man, or a thug for J. H. Blair.
Which side are you on boys? Which side are you on?”
*Trust me on this: Click and view the YouTube Bob Dylan performance that he gave at the Grammys, singing “You gotta serve somebody” – awesome performance. Listen to the lyrics and check out the backup singers.
Good to be quoting “Chairman Bob!” One of my all time favorite lines is in Masters of War: “Not even Jesus could forgive what you do!” Apply that to the Red Hill fiasco and the enormous devastation of Pohakuloa just to start, before we even get to the “missions” which involves destroying sovereign countries’ governments in pursuit of corporate greed. Jon
I always enjoy your blog and appreciate the information you share that helps me keep up with doing right by the island.
You wrote about the effort to purchase Coco Palms to insure that it goes into public use. I was talking to an entrepreneur this morning about just this topic. She is involved in a group dedicated to doing good in the world with their money. It did not take me long to enroll her into the possibility of saving Coco Palms for use as a cultural center and park. We talked about the contributions of groups of people with some money and explored the possibilities in that. We also had a long conversation about who with money could be enrolled in the project or how we could get their ear and how, given that there are always people connected to people connected to people, that was always a possibility. My question to you then is: Where can I find out where we could find out what directions have been taken, what the current plan is, and where in that plan we could make the most difference.
Saving Coco Palms for the people is entirely doable and the more shoulders we get under the wheel the better.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you Larry for the note. I sent you an email in response…