After 20 years on Guam, my husband, Mike, has reached the retirement age. We have been discussing where we could possibly retire.

The kids are scattered. We have three with a total of three grandchildren in the Milwaukee area. We have one with two grandchildren in Virginia Beach. We have one with one grandchild in the Florida Panhandle. And we have one somewhere in Arkansas.

One of them recently asked about our return.

“I don’t know,” I said. “It doesn’t seem safe anywhere in the states.”

In recent months, there have been shootings in El Paso, Dayton, and at a Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. Earlier this year, there was another at a municipal building in Virginia Beach.

If you aren’t safe in a place like Gilroy, California, where are you safe?

“I may rethink returning,” I told her. “Guam is safer.”

But is it?

It’s nearly impossible to go a day without reading about a theft at gunpoint, a machete attack, an aggravated assault or a sexual assault. Add to that headlines involving drugs and drug-related crimes, crimes committed by those on pretrial release, and stories about theft and corruption, and you will conclude that Guam is only beautiful on the surface. Even this is debatable if you consider palm trees ravaged by rhino beetles, contaminated beaches and illegal dumping.

What is happening to our island home?

I really can’t answer that question. I don’t know that anyone can.

Government mismanagement is perennial, so it likely doesn’t contribute to societal degradation any more now than it did before.

I think the state of the island is most deeply rooted in the state of our families. Although we like to portray our families as strong and foundational, many are hurting; the foundations are crumbling. And if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

The solution will not be found in more government involvement. The solution lies in the heart and minds of individuals. We can turn Guam around — likely faster than we think— but only if we each take responsibility for our lives and our actions.

As I’ve told my kids: “No one owes you anything. You are responsible for you.”

If we fix ourselves, we’ll be able to fix our families, and then we’ll be on our way to fixing the island.

But we need to want to.

And that, I’m afraid, is the biggest problem of all.

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