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What Is Paradise?

There is no paradise on earth. How do I know? Because I’m living in this so-called paradise state of Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Don’t get me wrong. Hawaii is a beautiful state. The weather is always warm, plenty of beautiful beaches, a lot of diverse restaurants, and there are always fun and exciting things to do. I am blessed to have the opportunity to live in Hawaii through the Army, which means I can enjoy all the perks of the state without having to suffer the cost of living.

When I did a scenic tour, the tour guide talked a bit about the lifestyle of Hawaii. Hawaii is the second highest cost of living in all 50 states. The wages are placed 23rd so imagine how challenging it can be when your pay doesn’t match the average cost of living. Luckily, for military personnel our pay matches the cost of living for wherever we are stationed.

There is an enormous homeless population in Hawaii. Every once in a while, there is an article in the newspaper addressing the homeless situation, but I figure that the government is taking it’s time to address the homeless statistics deliberately. Since homeless people have the benefit of staying warm year round, I guess the government thinks they have it a bit easier than everyone else in the world. But, every day when I leave my military post I see homeless people.

Addition to the low wages, there isn’t many jobs for people either. Every day there is heavy traffic. Not just because we’re on an island, but because many people do not work. The constant construction work slows the traffic even more. I’d say a quarter (more or less) of Hawaii are military and DOD civilians. Another percentage are retired military personnel. It looks like half of the people I see are tourists, and the rest of the population are residents working low-income jobs like construction, fast food restaurants, retail stores, and other odd jobs.

But, most of life is all about your perspective. Despite the high cost of living, low wages, high homeless rate, and unemployment, I still see the majority of people here are happy. Hawaii also has a low crime rate. I never hear stories of police brutality or harassment. Racism isn’t a problem here because everyone minds their own business. No one seems like they’re worried about how the other person looks, what they’re wearing, or what they’re doing.

As I write this article, I’m sitting outside a Starbucks drinking a Caramel Macchiato on ice. No one is paying me attention (I hope). Life is good. But, I still wouldn’t live here.

Cameron Armstrong graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a B.A. in English: Writing and a minor in Womens Studies. He created ArmstrongTimes to express his opinion on Relationships, Social Issues, and Spirituality.

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