Don’t forget to cook 3 cups of rice


Shared, enduring values are what define a family, a community or any meaningful relationship.

In the County of Maui, some of our values have been formalized in long-term plans established by law. For instance, the General Plan 2030 establishes this vision for the residents of Lanai, Maui and Molokai:

“The education and health of our people will be fostered to ensure that the residents of these islands can, if they choose, spend their whole lives here — raising children, owning homes, enjoying rewarding jobs, taking advantage of opportunities to contribute to this community and to be good stewards of our local treasures and resources.”

The Maui County Council is working to bring this vision to reality by facing the public policy issues that will define our islands’ future. Some of the matters with long-term impact planned for discussion over the remainder of the year are:

• Economic diversification and overtourism mitigation.

• Climate change impacts and opportunities.

• Comprehensive Affordable Housing Plan.

• Water Use and Development Plan.

• Homeless programs and services.

• Infrastructure and parks improvements.

• Advisory committees in South Maui and Ha’iku-Pa’ia.

There’s nothing more important than planning for our children’s future. On behalf of the council, I’d like to wish 2021 graduates success and happiness, and remind you to always cherish and abide by your beliefs and values as you begin a new, exciting chapter in your life.

One of my grandsons, Riley, recently graduated from St. Anthony in Wailuku and left for college.

When he was younger, I would drop him off at school and say, “Don’t forget to do a random act of kindness.” He would smile and continue with his day. This verbal ritual went on from grade school until he was old enough to drive himself to school. It was my hope that by doing an act of kindness every day, it would become a natural habit requiring no conscious effort.

On May 28, the big moment arrived at Riley’s high school commencement ceremony at St. Anthony Church Center. Unbeknownst to our family, Riley was honored with the Brother Robert Bader Award, an amazing surprise that filled our family with pride. This coveted award is presented to a male senior “who is a diligent student, exemplifies a gentlemanly, kind personality and is steadfast in his commitment to what is good.”

Treating others with kindness was a frequent occurrence in our home. My mother taught us to be kind and constantly emphasized the importance of family, community and caring for one another. My father taught us to be honest, fair and forthright and to always take our responsibilities and obligations seriously. These are values we hold dear and continue to live by. Riley’s mom and her family fostered a strong foundation and led by example, always reinforcing the importance of these values throughout Riley’s childhood.

I have tried to teach Riley about the important things in life to better prepare him to make good choices to help him achieve happiness and success. Riley developed a wonderful sense of humor, curiosity and respect for embracing core values.

From the time Riley was 12, I asked him to make three cups of rice for dinner. That was his job and daily contribution to the family. It was also a way for him to learn about responsibility and the importance of fulfilling daily obligations as a contributing member of our family and in life. Likewise, anyone who was hungry or needed a place to stay was always welcome at our home.

The three cups of rice serve as a metaphor which encompasses the notion that our responsibilities extend to our immediate family but also to our larger family — humanity.

Everyone has value. Everyone has a purpose. Everyone has a role.

To assume our role in society, we must prepare by acquiring a trade, skill or degree. This takes perseverance, integrity and fundamental values which will lay the foundation for our lives.

Graduates, and others starting journeys, may your journey be rich in experiences and rewards, and may your dreams come true. You are valued.

Riley, don’t forget to cook three cups of rice. Love, Grandma.

* Alice L. Lee is the Chair of the Maui County Council. She holds the County Council seat for the Wailuku-Waihe’e-Waikapu residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative and community matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.


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