Sun, Beaches, Palm Trees, and….Tents

I am taking a step away from talking about myself. Lets focus on a more serious issue.

To the outside world  Hawaii is  a tropical paradise. From the beaches, to the pineapples, to the amazing ocean waves it is the land of beauty, warmth, ,life, and peace. Some consider it a promise land where they come to relax, escape the troubles of reality, get married, or have a once in a lifetime vacation.

However, to those who live here there is a harsh reality of truth, one that may go unnoticed by tourist at times, but is still deeply a very disturbing a sad fact. A reality that puts a dark cloud over the tropical promise land.  The reality of homelessness and poverty in Hawaii.

To those who have seen the entire island of Oahu (the island with the largest population), understand that it is not all clean, serene beaches and sunshine. Travel outside of Waikiki to certain areas of  Waipahu or Wainaine, and you may forget where you actually are. You may even forget that you are still in the U. S. To those who truly know the island, know the truth about the growing population of homeless individuals and families that encompass the island. As a friend described it once “Hawaii is like a third world country”. Sadly, some areas are so improvised that it can remind one of being in a country that is struggling for resources.

The growing homeless population is the untold detriment of the island. To see a state where “tent communities” are a form of suitable housing is not exactly the idealistic notion of the American Dream. However, it a normal way of living on the island. Hey I even had a quick second thought of living in a tent so I can save money on rent. Though it is possible due to the year long warm weather,  it truly is not an ideal lifestyle.  For families to live in tents on a beach,  sadly it is not a public issue. It can be common. Children grow up together in tent communities. The beaches are used to shower, and public bathrooms can be treated like their very own. Would this require CPS action in New York, of course! However in Hawaii, as long as the children are being taken care of sufficiently CPS involvement is not necessary. The positive side: families are able to stay together, and the family unit is not disrupted.

In the recent Governor elections the issue of what to do about the homeless population came up as a topic of debate. It amazed me that the responses were to turn on the sprinklers at the park, and make it uncomfortable for them as much as possible.  That does not offer a solution, just moves people to a new location. Perhaps further away from the tourist? Hide the problem not fix has become the unsaid motto of what to do about homelessness.

The truth is that it just boils down to money.  The state of Hawaii is already in a deficit, considering that they actually furloughed school days last year, I know money is a serious state problem. To build more affordable housing, shelters, or to create more jobs may be out of the question at the immediate time. But, to have such a beautiful island, a paradise, that caters more to the tourist than the actual people who have grew up on the land, and call it home makes paradise a true disappointment. A former homeless man described his experience as this: ” I was waking up each day in paradise, but I felt like I was living each day in hell”.

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Veterans’ Day is only one day, Why not make a daily salute to our troops

When I was living in New York I never personally knew anyone who was in the military. I never met a person who went to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. I never met anyone who was risking his or her life in the midst of battle to protect our country.

While living in Hawaii I have met many people from different branches of the military who serve our country and put their lives on the line for our freedom. They go to war, they fight hard,  and endlessly. Knowing someone who has went to the battle ground one, two, or, three times makes this war a reality that I once choose to ignore. Hearing stories from the field and, seeing how families are affected by multiple deployments, brings to life a side of this war that I was blind to when I did not know a single member of our military. Hearing a story told through the media, and hearing a story told by a person who was actually fought in combat are two completely different experiences.  This experience has put a few things in perspective and also adds a new spin to the meaning  on what it means to fight for freedom. Last week we celebrated Veteran’s day, but for what our Veteran’s do for us as civilians we should take a moment each day to honor them and what they contribute to our own personal well being.

To know a solider,  a wife of a solider, or a child of a solider whose father has died while in combat, to me is a surreal experience. People are fighting, dying, families are waiting patiently with anxiety for loved ones to return. If they do not return hearts are broken, the family is permanently broken. Some soldiers come back different. PTSD is real. They go to war and see things that they wish they have never seen, they experience things that they wish they have never experienced. The game of war is not a video game with a reset button, in life there is only one chance to survive.

Personally, I am still against the war. Don’t get me wrong, I feel this is a war that did not have to happen. As the Black Eyed Peas, say in their song “Where is the Love”, “there is a war going on and the reason is undercover”. This is not a war of freedom, it is a war of politics. So for that, since lives are lost each day in vain, I will continue to be against the war. However, I will continue to honor, support, and not take for granted the men and women who fight in this war. A friend of mine says that he feels “honored” every time he puts own his army uniform. He has pride when he fights for our country. So to my friends, and all our troops, past and present, I say Thank You.

Can our President ever be a True Atheist?

Food for thought blog:

You ever wonder what would happen if the elected President of the United States was an Atheist. Would this ever be possible? Probably not. The power of the church is impeccable and no candidate would probably have a chance in an election if they openly denied religion or the power of God. The church would not allow them to take over the Oval Office. But considering the world that we live in, a world filled with hypocrisy, hate, war, and greed, would it really make a difference if we had an elected official who openly denied a connection to any religious practice.

I have heard Obama called everything from Christian, to Muslim, to Atheist. Obama is an outright Christian, but when his opinions differ from others, he will be called whatever name works best for them. But what if Obama really was an Atheist, how would that change the way we view him as a President, or the way he leads the country? Whatever happened to the separation of Church and State in government? Did that die with the founding fathers?

Would Darwin have made a horrible President? Some would say yes. In our country there are very smart and rational individuals who do not believe in a higher power who would make a really good President if we give them a chance. The evolutionist may actually make good leaders because they make decisions based on pure factual knowledge. No hunches, or intangible ideas. Pure facts. That would have been useful when we were looking for those non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Maybe an entire war could have been prevented, lives could have been spared, and money could have been saved. If only we had a leader that made moves off factual knowledge and not theory that just sounds good at the time.

I once read a survey that stated that Atheist knew more about religion than people who actually claim to belong to a religious group. Does anyone else see something wrong with that? Well it may seem that Atheist know why they do not follow a religion, instead of just following a religion because someone told them to. Hey that seems like a smart move to me. Research then choose, don’t just choose because we are told to. The mind runs deeper than that.

I say this because it appears that religion has become a point of use, only when needed. Only to make a point. Somewhere along the centuries, the force of religion has been watered down to our own personal use. To when it suites me best, I will find a quote from the bible to make my point. People who are against abortion, gay marriage, and giving women equality frequently quote the bible. But are they quoting the bible in other aspects of life, or only to prove their personal viewpoints. I have always thought that God has all the power to judge, and HE is the only judge. So who are we as humans to judge others for their life choices when we are all sinners and can be judged in one way or another?Red Bible Hard Cover

Members of congress quote the bible when they want to vote against something that they choose to say as morally wrong. But then we may also see them cheating on their wives, paying for sex with women, stealing from the people, filled in a scandal of corruption, or even having sex with a male prostitute in a bathroom.  Whatever happened to those verses they were quoting when they were doing their own form of sin? But it is Ok, because they believe in God, they can repent, and then move on to do it again.

So what if we had a President, who did have morals and values, and just stuck to them! They may not be religious morals, but they have a personal moral code. What if we had a President who was honest, lived with integrity, and did not judge others but allowed equal rights for all human beings. A president who makes decisions based on facts, and upholds the separation between church and state. This President does not believe in a God, but has no problems allowing others to believe in God. This President will have the qualities of a true Christian, however, does not define their individual sense of self by a religious group.

This may never happen, or at least not for a long time. Our money states “In God we Trust”, so whoever is sitting in that Oval Office, and making the decisions for the people of our country better believe that there is a God to trust and have faith in.

rainbow, church