On the one hand, when Koko and I went out walking this morning, was a scarlet-smudged sky. On the other was white, round Mahina, coming down from her full moon high. Beside and below her was the fully visible form of Waialeale, blue against a faint pink sky.
Pigs scuttled through the brush, raising the fur on Koko’s back and causing her to whine and strain against the leash. The moon, yellow now, kept sinking into a lavender sky, and the sun prepared to rise, shooting blue shafts of light into gold-gilded clouds that shortly became a riot of orange and red. Waialeale, in the process, was transformed from flat-faced gray-green into concave purple as birds burst into song and cardinals and shama thrush flitted across our path.
By 6:20 a.m. it was all over. The moon had slipped behind the mountains, the sun had slipped behind the clouds, the color had slipped from the sky and everything had changed, except for my experience of it.
I’ve been getting quite a lot of feedback on the "Parallel Universes" piece I originally wrote for ”Bamboo Ridge” that was excerpted in last Sunday’s Advertiser, and everyone has said they felt it accurately expressed their own experiences, things they also had heard expressed.
Most of the responses came from people I know, although I did get some very thoughtful comments from complete strangers, including a call from Anthony Ako Anjo, whose family is originally from Niihau and Waimea (they had the historic Ako Stores in Hanapepe and Waimea), although he now lives on Hawaii Island. He said:
The problem comes down to this, plain and simple: too many people living in a given space. A lot of what’s going on is based on anger and greed.
People have actually insulted me, you stupid Hawaiian. I’ve had it thrown right in my face, this is America. Well, the Nation of Hawaii was stolen by the U.S. government. It’s in the history books. I used to teach history in the public schools and even got in trouble for teaching kids this is what really happened to Hawaii. And a lot of that anger goes back that long, even before 1893.
I have been on both sides of the fence in which I tried working with people, mediating solutions for the greater good. If people can get to the point where they can just look at somebody as a human being that has a soul, no matter what god you pray to, maybe the world will get better. It all comes down to respect.
I was especially surprised to get a call from Jimmy Pflueger, who said the piece was “so true” before asking if I’d be interested in hearing his take on the subject:
Bill Huddy, a pure Hawaiian, at the time he was 80 to 83 years old, he sold a kuleana in the Kilauea area to the Marvin family from Newport Beach. When you sell a kuleana, you split it in half and they would not give him access to a path that led to his piece. He ended up going down a rope to get to his kuleana and his wife, she was in her late 70s I think, she had to go down that rope, too.
One day he came to me and handed me a paper bag. It had $40,000 inside and he said, I need a road to my house. I gave him back the bag and said I’ll build your road. Now Kilauea Plantation used to farm that land and one of their guys said he built a road for the plantation workers. He told me how to make the road, where to go, what to cut, so I did it and everything was fine.
One night I got a knock on my door and it was the Marvin’s son. He had tears in his eyes. He said I will lose my boat if I don’t get $20,000. So I went back in the house and I got the money and gave it to him. I never asked how he was gonna pay me back. The next day his wife baked me a pie and said thanks for being a good neighbor.
Then big rain came and mud came down from the road. Mrs. Marvin called and said I need a culvert and I need it now. The Marvins were using the Huddy’s road, because it was better than theirs. So I made the culvert and I got a $50,000 fine for making the culvert for Mrs. Culvert and a $500,000 fine for the road and 450 hours of community service. Their son was the one who turned me in.
I’m 84 years old. I was born and raised here. So if you think I don’t have a feeling for the newcomers — you lend them money and they turn around and nail you to the cross.
But I can see both sides. Newcomers have a right to use the beach. Some locals have an attitude, and I can say that because I’m a local. I think communication is a wonderful thing and if we all communicated a little more, the world would be a better place.”
And then there was this, from an African-American woman who lived on Kauai in the 1980s and now resides on Oahu:
I know lots of surfers and locals of all ethnicities, and remember a comment from one a couple years ago when I ran into him, "Have you been to the North Shore lately on Kauai? It is all Haole's!!! They have taken over the place and they treat us locals like we are crazy, put up huge fences and gates, it feels like the mainland."
It saddens me to see what has happen to Kauai, I moved here 30 years ago, because I was tired of the black/white issues on the mainland and the snotty people in Malibu where I was living (the only black person for miles). I left the fast lane, UCLA, Malibu and the mainland because things are a bit more low key here, the communities are mixed (lots of Brown people like me) the islands feel safe and removed from much of the discrimination, prejudice and violence on the mainland.
Bottom line, people with money have no respect for locals, they rape, pillage and destroy, the MO for America's greedy capitalist, it has been happening all over the world, with no end in sight as the classes move further apart.
All we can do, us citizens who believe in equality, justice and education is try and make a difference in our own lives first, our communities second and last our global family.