Service To One's Country Comes In Many Different Forms - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Reyn Kaupiko

Reyn Kaupiko is a Native Hawaiian military veteran who is currently pursuing his Masters in Public Leadership from the University of San Francisco.

Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on members of the military who serve and have served. Some of these members may be present with us today while others may have passed on. Regardless of our own political beliefs, it is important to keep in mind that these people are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters and sons.

This holiday has an underlying theme of service. Service comes in many different forms. My call to military service came after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. I answered this call by joining the U.S. Navy. Service to one’s country does not begin, nor end, with fighting for it. All citizens of this society can recognize the need for service in other areas. Today, an area of critical importance for the State of Hawaii is public service.

Public servants are needed now more than ever. In 2020, members of the baby boomer generation (those born between the years of 1946 and 1964) held nearly half of the seats in Hawaii’s Legislature. Over the course of the next decade, transition will be needed, and the time is now for the next generations to begin to serve in public office. The topic of politics is and always will be ​complicated​, but we must remember that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. The sacrifices of others have allowed us to live in the world we have grown to know.

First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge and thank those who have volunteered to run for office — any office — in both the primary and general elections this year, allowing democracy to live. The courage it takes to expose oneself and one’s family to the vulnerabilities of criticism and the time investment required for campaigning is unbelievable.

The worst choice for the people of Hawaii is to have no choice at all. If seats — even down at the neighborhood board level — go unfilled or unchallenged, we, as a community, are the losers. The mindset that “others will run” or that candidates should go unchallenged because “they have held their seats forever” is not healthy.

For our state to progress, and for democracy to endure, it is important to have ​different perspectives and healthy dialogue and to question the status quo. The mindset of “we have done something the same way for years” doesn’t mean we are doing it effectively — or even correctly.

Aerial view of the island of Oahu with Waikiki and Diamond Head on the right of the frame.
Good leadership is vital to the health and stability of the islands. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

In 2019, a study titled “Troubled Waters” was presented at the Hawaii Executive Conference. It estimated a total of $88 billion worth of liabilities for Hawaii state and local governments over the course of the next 30 years. This study identified issues such as infrastructure, pensions and climate change as areas of concern.

​We can no longer turn a blind eye to the tired, worn-down material status of our infrastructure, the massive liability of current and future pensions in the years to come and the changes to our environment, including sweltering temperatures and disappearing beaches. In 2020 the world economy shut down and we experienced firsthand the loss of our state’s greatest economic driver, leaving many in an uncertain economic situation.

Hawaii needs help. The Hawaii we love needs public servants to help solve these problems. The journey has yet to be charted. Hawaii is looking for the next generation of political navigators to lead us out of this economic doldrum.

Veterans Day is a day to celebrate the service of members of our military. Their legacy of service must be carried on.

We have just endured the most unique election cycle in recent memory and our local campaign process is forever changed.​ ​Hawaii desperately needs future public servants to step up and volunteer themselves for service to our state and to the betterment of Hawaii’s future.

Programs have been set up to help guide prospective candidates and campaigners through the challenges of entering the political arena. These programs can be found locally here in Hawaii, such as Kuleana Academy and Hooponopono. Many other programs exist, such as the Veterans Campaign and Answer the Call, with meetings held online. ​

Running for office or being involved politically takes commitment but it is a crucial way to serve the country.

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About the Author

Reyn Kaupiko

Reyn Kaupiko is a Native Hawaiian military veteran who is currently pursuing his Masters in Public Leadership from the University of San Francisco.

Latest Comments (0)

Thank you for stating this so well.  People stepping up is needed now more than ever. Mahalo

Lana_345 · 2 years ago

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