The following is a transcript of the 2013 State of the State Address as given by the Governor's office:
Mister Speaker, Madame President, former Governors, distinguished justices of the courts, representatives of our Congressional Delegation, members of the Hawaii State Legislature, other elected officials, honored guests, family and friends. Aloha.
My friends, politics isn’t a hobby or a past time. At its center, politics is community, and we as office holders are obliged to address our efforts to the greater good of the larger community. At its heart, politics is about doing good and relieving suffering. If politics is done right, it is all about making life better for people.
In Mahayana Buddhism, we are admonished to renounce all evil, practice all good, and save the many beings.
But when politics gets reduced to slogans and bumper stickers – what is right; what is good? What is wisdom and virtue to one, is grounds for accusation and denunciation to another. Observation can quickly become doctrine, and demands for fidelity to the true faith come even more rapidly. In secular political terms, the Party Line is established and with today’s cyber-technology, internet-hysteria often takes on a life of its own. Perspective gives way to prosecution or even persecution. We can do better than what we have lately witnessed. The level of discourse in our public policy discussion stands in need of elevation.
Today it seems everyone’s motivation is suspect. An opposing view is likely to be judged that of a fool or a tool of special interests. One’s position is not merely faulty or misguided, it is characterized as the work of someone consciously plotting to destroy the environment, or stealing public benefit for private gain, or willfully corrupting the good and welfare of the community. This is not the model of dialogue and exchange that we want or need in Hawaii.
The virus of absolutism now infecting the Congress of the United States appears to be seeping into Hawaii – whether it is the use of public lands, dealing with gun violence, determining who may marry, or decreeing how we are to be born or die. Even caring for the sick or preparing young children for life are opportunities for mocking dismissal or patronizing skepticism.
This absolutist attitude eliminates the human dimension from political discourse. The absolutist has answers for everything and questions about little or nothing.
I think perhaps it may be time to step back a bit and take a few deep breaths. In the wake of Senator Akaka’s request that we let a sense of Aloha enter our lives more deeply, could we not try a little harder to practice Aloha with each other. Could we not express some generosity of spirit for each other – both in our deliberation and in our decision making?
As I set about organizing my thoughts for today and reflected on the political atmosphere,
I concluded what we confront today is a situation of political Jeopardy. In the game of Jeopardy, everyone already has the answers; the challenge is to figure out and frame the right questions.
We are so busy telling each other what the answer is, so certain we already know what needs to be done, that we can ignore the questions behind our pronouncements.
My thought is irrespective of what we are for or against, we cannot allow ourselves to pre-empt the raising of pressing questions we need to comprehend and address lest we lose our way before we even begin to understand where we need to go or what path to take.
We need look no further than the question of unfunded liabilities. How do we address recurring needs like paying for healthcare benefits and exploding pension deficits and the means to finance them on a recurring basis?
How do we make use of our resources and assets, both public and private, with continuing investment security in the future?