Portland, like much of the Northwest, has been pretty much paralyzed by the unusually high amount of snowfall it experienced over the past week. Some of the busier city streets were plowed, but badly, and many residents lack snow shovels to dig their way out. Big snow like this (and I'm talking about 10 inches in the city) apparently doesn’t happen all that often.
I’ve enjoyed walking through a winter wonderland, seeing sights like holly with vibrant red berries and red cedar frosted with snow and icicles dripping from eaves. But I think a lot of folks here are sick of what they view as a major inconvenience.
And then I checked my email and saw several references to last night’s lighting strike-induced black out on Oahu. It left most everyone on the island without power, including President-elect Obama, who apparently is staying in a beach-front rental home. Hmmm. I wonder if it’s one permitted for vacation rental use. At any rate, it seems HECO had similar problems following the Big Island earthquake, and they weren’t the only ones. The Honolulu Airport, Waikiki hotels and the water department also stumbled last night, leaving one to wonder why they haven’t worked out some sort of coordinated response to such situations.
It got me thinking that we don’t need to worry about terrorist strikes destabilizing the nation. A little bit of unusual weather, any disruption to electrical service or the transportation infrastructure, and the whole system just falls apart. Kind of makes you realize just how vulnerable and tenuous “modern civilization” really is. It’s all about power and mobility, and if either are restricted, it fails to function.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s demonstration at the state Capitol to protest the sale of the so-called "ceded lands" was relegated to B Section coverage in the Advertiser, which had to post its paper on-line because the power outage kept its printing presses from functioning. But a rally held in solidarity on Kauai got front page coverage in today’s The Garden Island.
The Advertiser article spoke of the “newly formed Hawaiian Independence Alliance” joining with Hui Pu, a pro-independence umbrella group, to stage the protest. I keep thinking that maybe this U.S. Supreme Court case may be the catalyst to mobilize and unify Hawaiians — and hopefully it will happen before it’s too late, or the Akaka Bill is pushed down their throats as an option to losing everything in an unfavorable high court decision.
The Hawaiian situation came up last night when one of my sisters mentioned Tibet, and how tragic and difficult it would be to live in or visit a place where a nation’s culture is being annihilated, And I said, well, that’s what’s happening in Hawaii.
It struck me that many Americans know more about what’s going in Tibet than one of their own states. We talked about the oppression of kanaka maoli in Hawaii and how Native Americans had suffered a similar fate, with miserable consequences, as exemplified by the two men we'd met on the MAX, Portland's light-rail system. We were coming back from the airport my first night in the city, and it was after midnight and bitter cold when the men hopped on to warm up for a while. I smiled at them and they struck up a conversation, quickly divulging that they were Native Americans, and homeless in their own land. My thoughts immediately flashed to all the homeless kanaka in the Islands.
The next day I briefed my brother-in-law on the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and “seized, not ceded,” lands issue, and his immediate response was: “that’s not right.” I think a lot of other folks living in the contiguous 48 would agree, if they only knew the facts, but they just aren't getting out.
Instead, Hawaii is presented repeatedly as a paradise where all is lovely and devoid of trouble and strife — until lightning strikes and the kanaka maoli rise up and the cracks in the facade are once again revealed.