Danny De Gracia: Take Care Of Each Other, Everyone's Life Matters - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

When several of my lifelong friends died of Covid-19 in 2020, I didn’t even know in several cases that they had fallen ill, let alone died, until weeks later. I had simply stopped hearing from them for a protracted period of time and naively assumed that they were just busy, as they often were.

Opinion article badgeIt is not uncommon to lose track of a neighbor, coworker, friend or family member and to find out they have passed away.

One can expect to experience this many times throughout one’s life, and the longer one lives, the more people we will lose over the years, often times without our immediate knowledge. But what makes the current epoch so disruptive is the fact that all of us may experience consecutive losses within the same year, even the same month, and that is truly a tragedy.

It is also not just Covid that kills right now. While our leaders may purport to be actively looking at hospitalization rates or ICU utilization or even deaths attributable to Covid, there are other “hidden figures” that no one sees. There are people who may not die specifically of Covid, but because of Covid’s disruption on our society.

The pandemic has created obstacles for seemingly less serious conditions to be monitored or treated that at first may appear to be manageable but can quickly spiral out of control. And if no one is checking in on each other to monitor physical or even mental conditions, bad things can happen in silence that are often preventable.

For example, an older adult with a cut on their foot from a small accident may feel confident that they can just tough it out at home, but they can rapidly develop a life-threatening infection. If no one is around to see that problem and urge them to get care, the patient could develop gangrene and die.

People with elevated blood sugar, hypertension and other “silent” diseases may be reluctant to try to schedule a doctor’s appointment because of the long wait associated with care now or the hassle of being out in public while the omicron variant is raging.

Such individuals may already be experiencing symptoms of these diseases and may assume they are able to shrug it off, but it can be surprising how quickly health conditions can decline.

Volunteers for Komo Mai Community Services, part of Leeward Community Church, pack boxes of food for their Take-Away Meals effort in Pearl City, on Tuesday, October 5, 2021. The weekly Take-Away Meals food pantry provides emergency food relief for those in need. (Ronen Zilberman photo Civil Beat)
Community groups organize events and assistance for those who need it. But people need to check on those around them who may otherwise fall through the cracks. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2021

Right now, the most important thing we can do here in Hawaii is to check on the people around us and to create circles of accountability and support. This may enable us to save many people.

This is why it is important to not just call or text but to visit individuals in person, especially our kupuna, and to regularly ask meaningful questions like “How are you feeling? Is there anything you need or that I can do for you?” and to follow through with them. If you see something that concerns you, tell people about it, because you might be saving a life.

We should also be concerned about how the pandemic and the rapidly changing economic and social conditions are impacting people’s quality of life. Many people at this time can’t afford food and might be too proud to tell you about it, but they could benefit from us taking initiative – without even being asked – and bringing them a casserole or other food that can stretch to their whole household.

Others might not be able to pay the bills due to inflation, or might be overwhelmed with unexpected expenses. Here’s a controversial thought: If you sense someone is struggling, and you are able to be of help, take the initiative and surprise them with a greeting card and a check or a couple of dollars.

In this day and age in which we are living, people have become so mercenary about the economy and so fixated on dollars and cents that giving money away is sometimes perceived as awkward or uncomfortable, but I say be awkward and uncomfortable and shock someone with a check for $100 or more if you can afford it.

You could even surprise people by offering to babysit their children, helping do chores for them or doing something meaningful that lifts a burden for them. The principle behind this is that we are all connected to each other and our actions can save lives, break depression, prevent suicide and free people to break through life’s crises.

We’re in an election year, and a lot of people are thinking about policy and politics as a means to save Hawaii. But what we really need right now is a community of people who care about each other and show compassion to those around them.

I believe in a higher form of “personal responsibility” than what our elected officials tell us we should have in this pandemic. The danger we face right now is losing our humanity to the point where we start to view people around us as expendable, disposable and forgettable. True personal responsibility is recognizing that in this pandemic we need more social compassion and more selfless devotion to each other.

I want everyone reading this to do two things. First, go to the mirror today and say to yourself, “I am not expendable. I am important and my life matters.” Then, after you do that, check in on the people in your life and treat them like they are important and their lives matter to you.

Let’s save our city and state. It’s up to us, Honolulu.

Read this next:

Denby Fawcett: How Covid-19 Has Warped Our Sense Of Time

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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

Latest Comments (0)

Thanks Danny for reminding us about ,care, compassion, love as non-negotiable first principles for preserving our own humanity and maybe our nations unity. Excessive individualism and a belief in privatization has brought us to this place where Five Big private corporations Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google (FANG) increasingly exert power on our desires and relationships beyond our our ability to consciously resist. Their power is global beyond reach of governments and through the exponential growth of AI are presently and will continue to obliterate the grammar of being a neighbor, a friend, a family member. As robots take the place of humans in the great resignation, the human person is devalued and rendered isolated and lonely. A deep narrative that defines our success as human beings by win lose metrics and material accumulation produces fractured communities, families and nations. We must tell and live a new story by returning to a commitment to values like truth, beauty, scaredness of all life that both modern and postmodern stories rejected. Without transcendent values to live for we worship ourselves--which is too small a deity.

JM · 5 months ago

Thank you for writing this! I couldn't agree more and I hope everyone takes this to heart. Not just during pandemic times but for our lifetimes.  

Per99 · 5 months ago

Another well-written piece reminding people to care for one other and spread aloha during these uncertain and stressful times. We should also empathize with others who are in worse conditions than we are. Most important, we need to ensure vulnerable/elderly folks and the working poor in our community have a roof above their head and food in their belly. Thank you, Danny, for pointing out that it is not just about covid hospitalizations, and it is important to pay attention to the other diseases that people are hospitalize for which end up burdening the ER and ICU staff.

MK1309 · 5 months ago

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