Food For Thought 10-17-08
Hi friends, this is Harry Blalock; General Manager for radio stations KZMI & KCNM. Typically this is the time you’ve become accustomed to tuning in for Food For Thought, and finding out what thoughts were rambling around inside my head. And I guess that’s what you’ll be getting once again today.
Every year on her birthday, my wife Kelli stops and takes time to re-evaluate her life and take a look at where she’s at, and where she is heading. It’s a good thing to do and when you do it on your birthday, you always have a built in reminder to do it every year. I have to admit that I haven’t always taken the time to do it like she has. But today is my 48th birthday and it seemed like a good time to stop and reflect and reassess. But for me the last several months have been a time to take a look at my life and figure out what I wanted to do and what was truly important to me.
I’m sure it will come as a surprise to no one that diving and everything underwater is not only important to me, but is something that I love sharing with as many people as I possibly can. I have literally taken hundreds and hundreds of people out on dives with me since I moved here 12 ½ years ago. For some, it was their first experience underwater, and it was their introduction to a magical world they had only seen pictures of previously. And for many others, like many of the officers and crewmembers of the various Navy ships that have visited Saipan over the years, it was a chance to let them experience the beauty of what Saipan has to offer underwater. I have had a ton of fun with it over the years, and even had a fictitious tour company sort of spring up as a result. I say it’s fictitious because it’s not listed in the phone book, and I’ve never charged anyone a penny to go diving with me, but it’s very real to the hundreds that I’ve taken out for a dive or two. I’ve had people discover my diving blog online and contact me from Japan, Ohio, Australia and various other locations asking if I’d be willing to take them out diving when they came to Saipan. The answer is always yes. And over the next several days I’ll have the privilege of taking some of the visiting White House staffers out diving as well. It has truly been an amazing life and I’ve been privileged to share my passion with many other people over the years.
A couple diving friends of mine have been talking to me for the last year or so about furthering my dive certifications so that I could actually teach diving and share my passion with that many more people, introducing them at the very basic level. Mike Tripp and Mike Ernest were very patient with me and all my arguments against it, and didn’t push too hard, but yet kept continually encouraging me to take this next step to be able to become even more involved in the diving community. But it was Mike Ernest who was eventually successful in convincing me to take the PADI Rescue Diver class and Divemaster. Once I did that, I realized that I was only one step away from becoming an instructor, so I went ahead and made plans to go to Guam to attend the Instructor’s course over there for the first two weeks of November. So I’ll be gone for a couple weeks as I take the course, but I will be returning to the airwaves November 17th.
The reason I’m taking this next step is because it will allow me to share my love of the underwater world with many more people and to help them experience the magic and wonder of it as well. It’s something that is that important to me and it’s a dream that I’m following. As I get older, I want to spend more time with the things I’m really passionate about and make as much of a difference as I can in them. I think its part of human nature to want to leave your mark and to leave a legacy you can be proud of.
At the same time, I have been thinking about whether the need continues to exist for Food For Thought or not. Food For Thought was never meant to solve all the islands problems or to answer all the questions. It was meant to get you thinking about the issues that confront us all. It didn’t matter whether you agreed with my point of view or not, what mattered is that you spent time thinking about the issues and talking about them with one another. Food For Thought asked a lot of questions, the point of the questions was to get you searching for answers so you could draw your own conclusions. I started Food For Thought 7 years ago because I didn’t see anyone speaking up about the issues and some of the abuses that were going on. I didn’t feel that the newspapers were addressing the issues in their editorials, they were either in bed with or afraid of the politicians.
But that has changed now; people are speaking up about the issues and are writing letters to the editor. They realize that they can speak out against their leaders and question them, and that they have rights as voters and citizens. The need for Food For Thought is not there like it once was. Much has happened in the past 7 years that I’ve been sharing my Food For Thought and I’ve made many predictions throughout the years about where we were heading and what we could expect to happen. I talked about the impending collapse of the garment industry, back when the Babauta administration was calling me an alarmist, saying I didn’t know what I was talking about. Now we’re down to the final 3 garment factories, and they probably won’t be around that much longer. I talked about how the Babauta administration lied to us about the budget and how much was being spent. They kept claiming they achieved a balanced budget, and yet when the audits were performed we learned they had racked up the biggest deficits in the CNMI’s history. I talked about Rota and the Global Country for World Peace. I talked about lawmakers who poached coconut crabs and smuggled in fruit bats. I talked about a previous Attorney General who protected her boss’s fishing buddies, refusing to prosecute them even when they were caught red handed fishing in a sanctuary. I’ve talked about this administration and the nepotism that continues. I’ve talked about the failure to follow through with prosecutions of former Marianas Public Land Authority officials who enriched themselves while in office. I’ve talked about the situation with Commonwealth Utilities Corporation and the folly of their plans. I’ve talked about the issues of the week nearly 400 times with you so far, but I believe this will be the last.
I know there will be many who will be making claims that they are the ones who got me to finally retire Food For Thought, but they will all just be spouting hot air. I’m not stopping because a few members of the legislature tried to formally censure me and have me voted persona non grata. Frankly I was a bit disappointed they didn’t have the guts and the votes to follow through on it. I’m not stopping my commentary because a legislator sent a letter to my boss. My boss got a good laugh out of it, but if you want to know his thoughts of that legislator, you’ll have to ask him yourself. I’m not stopping because I questioned the Drug Enforcement Agency’s timing in my commentary last week. Although I did get a visit from Resident Agent-In-Charge Antonio Marquez from Guam wanting to set the record straight, that had nothing to do with my decision. I’m not stopping my commentary because of any pressure from any politicians, and I’m not stopping it because I have decided to take up writing fairy tales for a living, although that one is very tempting. I am simply stopping because I think it’s time, and I’m passing the torch to others to speak out about the issues of the day. There may be more writing in my future, but it will likely be in the form of books.
When I return from getting my scuba instructor’s card in Guam, I will be continuing the talk show in the mornings, and I’m sure that there will continue to be hot topic issues and opinions expressed there by myself and guests alike, but that will have to suffice. To those of you who have found your public voice, keep speaking out and questioning your leaders. Demand answers! This is your life, your livelihood, your islands and your future, you have every right to expect and demand accountability of elected leaders. Make them answer for their past and their track records don’t just forgive and forget or you’ll be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
And if you’ve always thought about trying scuba diving but just never took the plunge, let me show you what I’m really passionate about, give me a call and I’ll introduce you to a whole new world.
Thanks for your listenership over the last 7 years and I’ll be expecting you to keep joining me on Island Issues.
I’m Harry Blalock, thanking you once again for giving me a generous slice of your valuable time, and allowing me to share one last Food For Thought.