COVID-19’s Call To Action - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

Keith Mattson

Keith Mattson is an urban planning and policy analyst for Accord3.0 Network and president of Keith Mattson LLC, a Honolulu consulting firm.


Have you ever maxed out a credit card and piled up penalties? Ever bounced a check?

Ever flunked a course you could have passed if you did all the assignments? Ever messed up a car because you ignored a warning light?

Chances are, you’ve done one or more of these in the past. They’re all the result of ignoring common sense warnings and paying mightily for it in the long run.

This is the cruel reality of COVID-19: you reap what you sow, but about two to three weeks later.

With COVID-19, the impacts of things we ignore aren’t suffered individually; they multiply.

Medical technicians from Premiere Medical Group Hawaii work with COVID-19 rapid test machines at the Kakaako Waterfront Park.

Medical technicians from Premiere Medical Group Hawaii work with COVID-19 rapid test machines at the Kakaako Waterfront Park on Monday.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

It’s pretty clear that the spike in cases we’re seeing now is the result of letting our guards down after July 4th. For a while there, we were the top performing state in the nation for containing the virus.

Now we aren’t. And we’re at risk of spinning out of control.

The Enemy

It would be truly sad for Hawaii to lose its conviction for controlling COVID-19. For once, we really can’t blame outsiders for just being selfish and disrespectful. In the immortal words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and it is us.”

We didn’t cause this situation, but we can solve it — at least locally.

We need to drastically ratchet up our kokua. We need to have a full-scale community-wide focus and resolve to adhere to the simple and effective precautions that we’ve all heard for the past few months. We need to take this plenty serious.

Imagine if the World War II London blackouts to thwart Nazi bombers failed because a few people decided keeping their lights out was a bother?

Imagine if the ahupuaa system was lax enough that upstream people could do whatever they wanted and not care about downstream environments?

Imagine if any traditional Hawaiian kapu system had an individual ‘opt out’ policy for people feeling inconvenienced?

COVID-19 illustrates the classic ‘tragedy of the commons’ situation. There is a shared resource where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users.

Don’t leave it to government officials and the media.

We’re literally all stitched together in this pandemic. We are truly all our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers. The individual decisions we make can have lasting impacts on our families, friends, and perfect strangers.

We all need to do our part, but we especially need Hawaii’s thought leaders to step up. Kupuna, ministers, coaches, teachers, nonprofit leaders, family heads, etc.

Don’t leave it to government officials and the media — their bandwidth is tapped out.

Embrace the challenge and spread your aloha through clear, thoughtful, and consistent messages that can help deflect this curve.

Help give people a sense of responsibility and purpose through their individual behaviors. Give people hope about better, calmer days ahead.

Those days are coming, but we need everyone’s kokua to get there.

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About the Author

Keith Mattson

Keith Mattson is an urban planning and policy analyst for Accord3.0 Network and president of Keith Mattson LLC, a Honolulu consulting firm.


Latest Comments (0)

We are at war.  In war there will be casualties.  There have already been casualties in this war.  We have to accept that and proceed with our plan.  Like a commander on D-Day; there will be casualties and yet it has to be done.  Understanding that the battle against an enemy (virus) will take time and a great toll.  

ClaudeRains · 1 month ago

We need "thought leaders" in certain communities to step up more than others: pastors of conservative churches, kupuna, leaders of the Micronesian communities, spokespeople for the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and HTA to name a few. 

kbaybaby · 1 month ago

Beautiful,Kaneohemom-so true 

Swimmerjean · 1 month ago

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