My Turn: What to do when nothing works

Mayor Harry Kim and Gov. David Ige do not agree on how, when or whether to resume interisland travel. Many states do not agree with each other in their strategies to deal with the pandemic. The federal structures do not agree with themselves. Is it any wonder that most of us are uncertain when seeking facts, accuracy, or guidance? The fallout from such a chaotic reality is predictable; many/most of the systems that we have come to believe in are flirting with collapse. Even when collapse may not be imminent, the fear of it is looming. Rational planning of most sorts has become a dim hope. Just as hope is not a plan, neither is blame an answer to the question. What to do when nothing works?

Regardless of who we blame, the virus is the enemy, and the pandemic is the result. The avalanche of chaos, errors, egos, fears, and biases have created a “perfect storm.” The old wisdom of “stop digging when you’re in a hole,” doesn’t apply because we haven’t hit the bottom yet, we’re still falling. We must stop the fall, or, more accurately, minimize the pain and injury while falling so we don’t die on the way down. If the toxicity of the virus itself doesn’t end us outright, the ‘collateral damage’ (financial, psychological, neurological, social …) might. I’d like to speak to this collateral damage.


While “the government” didn’t cause the pandemic, it cannot be argued that the government is innocent. The shutdowns all stem from local, county, state and federal policies, directives, and guidance. I believe such activity makes the government complicit in our current state and, as such, requires them to accept responsibility for finding and implementing a way forward. I suggest that the scale of the “fix” must be equal to the scale of the problem. In this case, I think the way forward is actually to go back.

It is insane to cripple all of our societal functions without expecting that anything other than anarchy will result. We have already seen the beginnings of this effect, the breakdown of our “norms” into racial, religious and social protests becoming increasingly heated. We should all be aware that there is a point when “auto-ignition” occurs and there is no turning back. Before such a point occurs, the government (all) should enact emergency measures to prohibit all “takings” (forfeitures, foreclosures, rents, mortgages and all such displacements). In short, we revert to much earlier times when barter and/or scrip was the order of the day. All transactions, and the subsequent (legal) actions following, should be “frozen in place” until such time as the entirety of the fallout can be determined and a fully conceived restart developed. The “do no harm” logic seems necessary and appropriate.


Needless to say, the results of our November elections will play the leading role in our fate.

Richard Apothaker is a resident of Waikoloa.

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