We have problems here in Hawaii. I know, I know—homelessness must be better when it’s sleeping under a palm tree. Being hungry must be better when you could (conceivably at least) pick papayas or fish in the ocean. Drug addiction can’t be that bad when people fire up their pipes in abandoned cane shacks, not on streetcorners filled with guns and graffiti. But alas, folks, we’re not exempt from these things and lately, with the recession, there’s more of it than ever.

In fact, our state’s reputation for generosity in social services has led to a rash of one-way tickets over here to what are becoming “tent villages” of Midwestern homeless, back east homeless, and garden-variety California homeless- as if we didn’t have enough homegrown homeless.

Cutbacks in other services have been severe lately, especially in mental health, leading to more mentally ill people off their meds pushing carts around from beach to beach. The highest unemployment rate ever has led to more desperate people than ever. There is a point to this sad rant—hang in there, I’m getting to it.

The days of leaving doors unlocked and windows ajar are over—and if you never lived in a place where that was the norm, I’m sorry because it’s wonderful. It’s how we’ve lived here in Hawaii for the last hundred years.

My daughter, a junior home from college, neglected to lock one of the doors on the dented, 10 year old Honda Civic she’s borrowing from us for the summer. Just the car’s decrepit appearance was enough to discourage thieves in the past. Not so today- her laptop and cell phone were stolen, and she came home in tears, a police report virgin.

I know, I know—you’re laughing at our family’s trauma over this seemingly commonplace event. But to me it’s a about a loss of innocence—hers, who has to go through her first police report process, cancel phone, and lose all internet contact (GACK! HOW WILL SHE SURVIVE!) and ours, for the days when the Aloha Spirit protected us, and like the Shire in Middle Earth, we dwelt in peace if poverty.

At least we still have the palm trees…

picture of the word, PONO

This sign hangs over one of our notorious crime/homeless campsites.

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