Karleen Chinen

Shinnen akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! Happy New Year!

Every inch of our New Year’s edition (Jan. 5) was filled with either editorial content or advertising support, so Gwen Battad Ishikawa, Grant “Sandaa” Murata and I weren’t able to wish you good wishes for the new year as we would have wanted. We hope that you had a safe and happy celebration of the arrival of 2018 — the “Year of the Dog.”

Well, it sure didn’t take long for a different kind of fireworks to explode. Only six days. Everyone, I’m sure, has their own story to tell about where they were, what they were doing and how they feel about the day the ballistic missile alert was mistakenly activated, sending most of Hawai‘i into a panic.

I wasn’t among that “most.” The alert did not go off on my phone. Although it was sleep-in Saturday for me, my phone was right beside me and the radio was on to HPR. I was awakened by a text from my niece and then a phone call from her telling me about the alert. HPR was on regular Saturday morning programming, so I switched to KSSK. Nothing. Back to HPR . . . still nothing, and no sirens. Back to KSSK . . . and then the word that it was a false alarm.

My very first thought was, how could this be? The two Koreas had begun talking to each other in the last week. Sure, they were talking about participation in next month’s Winter Olympics. But, they were talking.

Maybe I’m too fatalistic about a nuclear attack, but I don’t really believe that Hawai‘i will survive a nuclear attack. I’m open to having scientists convince me otherwise, but at this point, I’m very skeptical. And, even if we did manage to survive, would we live a quality life?

I know that people are hopping mad at Gov. David Ige and Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency, led by retired Gen. Vern Miyagi. Some are calling for the head of the employee who clicked on the wrong option — even sending death threats. Come on, really? Ask yourself whether you’ve ever done anything that in a fraction of a second you wished you had not. We all have, whether the act resulted in a major repercussion or a minor one. We all make mistakes because we are human.

What we did learn as a result of the false alert is that we are grossly unprepared for a nuclear attack. I always thought that any attack alert would come from the military, specifically the Pacific Command, not the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency. Hurricane alerts, yes. Tsunami alerts, yes. But a missile alert?

What we learned is that the state needs to develop a real plan, a comprehensive plan in case of real attack. And if we’ve learned that and act on it, then maybe we can find the silver lining in what happened on Jan. 6.

Tomorrow, Jan. 20, 2018, will mark one year since Donald Trump took office as the 45th president of the United States . . . and began his childish, but extremely dangerous war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “Rocket man?” Tweeting that his (Trump’s) nuclear button is bigger than Kim Jong Un’s? This is the president of the United States doing this?!

U.S. relations with North Korea have been fragile for decades. But never have they been this dangerous, fueled mainly by an out of control American president and an equally out of control North Korean leader. I hope our congressional delegation will work with their colleagues in Congress to reign him in.

All of this comes just days after I “enjoyed” several hours of binge-watching my favorite TV series on DVD, “The West Wing,” after sending our New Year’s edition to press. I had to laugh to myself. When my niece was little, my brother-in-law used to remind her that what she saw on television wasn’t real; it was make-believe.

I must be a glutton for punishment because the make-believe president on the “The West Wing” — Josiah “Jeb” Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, is way more “presidential” than America’s real-life president, Donald Trump. It’s enough to make me want to cry.

In this second issue of 2018, however, I’d like to go out on a positive note, and perhaps the most positive act to have come about in the 19 days since the start of this new year was the opening last Friday of Kahauiki Village, a community where formerly homeless people now have a real home. Local businessman Duane Kurisu and his team deserve a huge high-five for showing our community what is possible when people work together with their hearts in the right place. Congratulations to the Kahauiki team!


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