The darkness of a new moon morning was emphasized by a thick layer of clouds that prompted me to take a flash light when Koko and I went walking, something I never do. Before long, though, the edges of the sky began to brighten and Koko began to whine, signaling that my neighbor Andy and his dog, Momi, were fast coming up from behind.
Andy doesn’t listen to the radio, but he was curious about yesterday’s show, since we’re both friends with and fans of Kaleo Patterson. I said that Kaleo had talked about how it’s easy to forget the progress that has been made over the past 50 years toward restoring the Hawaiian culture and moving toward reconciliation because folks are still so focused on the goal of self-governance, and rightly so.
As one sign of that progress within the Hawaiian community itself, he noted that a torch light aha kukui ceremony, which he described as holding the light high, shining the light on something, is planned for this weekend to mark the 117th anniversary of the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. One of those torches will be stationed at Kawaihao Church, which shunned the Queen after the overthrow, and other Hawaiian churches that previously have been on the sidelines of the independence movement, or even opposed it, are also participating.
Andy said he was glad that Kaleo had discussed that, because it’s important for people to know that Hawaiians long have been divided about a lot of issues, except for annexation, which they pretty much universally opposed.
What I especially appreciated were Kaleo’s comments about the subtle, and not so subtle, ways that violence has ingratiated itself into our culture through language — he cited bullet points, target populations and the Killer Tacos stand in Haleiwa as examples — and studies that have shown most people are not inherently violent. (And then there are the conscience-less psychopaths, which I'll discuss in a future post.)
A lot of it is learned behavior, and so it can be unlearned, or we can learn different ways of being, which is why he helped start the Center for Indigenous Leadership and Peacemaking at UH, which studies nonviolent cultures.
They tend to be very careful about how they use language, he said, and they also practice gender equity.
“They also shun competition,” I told Andy, “which is something that most Americans would consider heresy.”
Kaleo didn’t gloss over the difficulties of achieving a non-violent society, saying it’s a lot easier to solve a dispute with a bullet than to sit down with your opponent and lay your issues by side by side on the table, without the desire to dominate.
And that got me thinking about a quote that Dawson had cited in comments:
Dominion. We have only one thing to give up: our dominion. We don’t own the world. We're not kings here, not gods. Can we give that up? Too precious, all that control? Too tempting, being a god?
It struck me later that the foundation of peace lies in the willingness to step back from that desire to dominate.
We aren’t there yet, especially not America as a nation and those of us who have grown up immersed in its violence. As I told Andy, I vacillate between wanting to be peaceful and tearing someone’s head off — especially the idiots who revel in their thoughtlessness, insensitivity, greed and destructiveness.
It’s still a dream, achieving that state of personal peacefulness that ultimately will help transform the world into a peaceful place, but hey, I'm a dreamer from way back. It’s good to have dreams.
Just ask Ken Stokes. According to an article in The Hawaii Independent on the challenges and opportunities facing Kauai in the new decade (which as Andy likes to point out doesn’t officially start until 2011):
“People tend to focus on the fear factor,” Stokes says. “My expectation is that by 2020 we will have stood that notion [of being cut off] on its head. Kauai has the capacity to produce far more renewable energy than we’ll ever need.” Stokes goes so far as to suggest Kauai could some day be exporting energy.
Or JoAnn Yukimura, who was quoted in the same article and apparently does not read the comments section of this blog:
“The generally caring, giving nature of people on Kauai will play a big role in facing these and future challenges,” says Yukimura, who was mayor during the 1992 Hurricane Iniki. The same spirit of sharing and helping each other, she says, is still the predominant force of the people of Kauai today, is what most give her cause for optimism.
Looking ahead 10 years and beyond, Yukimura says that “if we make it over the hump, it’s going to be because of this.”
Or Glenn Hontz, also quoted in the story:
“It takes training and on-going technical assistance to become successful at growing food. Sadly, too many of us want someone else to learn how,” Hontz says. Still, he prefers to listen to his “optimistic voice” and continues pushing to advance the groundwork required for Kauai to feed itself by 2020.
Meanwhile, we keep expanding our roadways, instead of our bus system, our ag land continues to be developed as gentleman’s estates and vacation rentals, rather than farms, no significant alternative energy proposal has even entered the planning process and the council just nixed the windmill bill and is aghast at the 50-cent fuel surcharge proposed by the dreamy Kaua‘i Energy Sustainability Plan.
So we’ve got dreams, and we’ve got reality. Seems it’s good to face up to the latter, while still holding fast to the former. Because as Brudda Iz, among others, sang, "Dreams really do come true."