Individuals can be thankful for a long list of people and places that make life what it is on Maui. For most, life on the island is better than it could be anyplace else in the world. Sound like some sort of fantasy? Not at all.
While increasing in population from 45,000 to 150,000 in the last three decades, Maui is still a place of open space and soul-swelling vistas. Thank all those who look at any change as being destructive. Plans change with the times but there are always those - both on and off-island - who would do anything for a buck. The destruction of the Maui we love would be a runaway horse if developers are given free rein.
Organizations made up of thoughtful citizens are ready to do battle with the plans for generating only dollars. Government agencies - most made up of volunteers working for nothing other than satisfaction - are also devoted to the good fight.
Politicians see the future of Maui as a balancing act. On one side is nurturing traditional jobs in a changing time. On the other is preserving the island's natural beauty. Tourism, the main economic engine in the island's economy, depends on emptying the pockets of visitors looking for a radical departure from life at home. Also thank tight-fisted bankers who are limiting funding for developers of all sorts.
A simple truth: The environment is the economy.
The lure of Maui depends on public acceptance, the opposite of the sentiment expressed in a bumper sticker saying, "Welcome to Maui. Now go home." Applied aloha is the difference.
For the most part, government on the state and county level looks at the collective bottom line. There are changes in the wind. Thank the state Department of Land and Natural Resources for finally having the courage to buck the desire to ignore the rising population with proposals to limit the number of fish taken from Maui's reefs. What grandfather was able to do is impossible. The reefs and the critters they harbor bring millions of dollars to the island.
Truth be told, even local traditions are in danger from nets, hooks and spear guns. Want your grandchildren to enjoy the pleasure - and sometimes necessity - of putting food on the table and the dollars needed to support the use of money-eating modern equipment? Follow Hawaiian traditions. Thank those who think in terms of "seven generations into the future."
Protecting the reefs also means controlling development of the land. Thank those courageous individuals who speak for the future after seeing what the past has done. A barren ocean serves no one.
Thank those farsighted leaders who have given us the likes of Makena State Park and the woefully few marine reserves that serve as nurseries for all of life in the ocean. Thank those who would have the public own and control Maui's last open stretches of shoreline.
Thank those citizen planners who saw it is necessary to limit the spread of urban areas in order to preserve open space when they wrote plans for Maui's next decades of growth. The need for parks, open shorelines and uncluttered vistas will only increase.
Ah, but . . .
Maui is still no ka oi.
Thank the individuals who take the time to look around and acknowledge the presence of others, and when they see a need, do what they can without being asked. They are the true islanders who know - sometimes subconsciously - we are all on a speck of land in the middle of the Pacific and should be able to rely on family, friends and neighbors.
Thank those who do what they can to improve life for the less fortunate - the homeless, the hungry, the disabled and those left behind by modern times.
Thank those who bring the community together by serving the recreational needs of the young and old. Thank those who support and participate in all of Maui's many churches and temples to reinforce a common sense of morality and concern.
Thank those public servants devoted to keeping a lid on aberrant behavior and providing relief from natural and unnatural disasters. Police officers, firefighters, members of the armed services, public health officials and others are there when needed.
There is much on Maui deserving gratitude, especially those who love you. Thanks, eh.
* Ron Youngblood is a retired editor and staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is email@example.com.