After checking out the garden, which is chugging along on nature's cruise control, juiced up on interspersions of rain and sun, the dogs and I headed down to the sea. It was a shimmering expanse of sparkle, with big, white-frothed waves repeating the pattern they've perfected over countless eons: open and shut, open and shut.
And as I sat there, lulled by the shush and the boom, I got to musing about the very different world views reflected in events surrounding the APEC meeting, and what sort of future each would usher in, should it prevail.
First, there was Sec. of State Hillary Clinton's speech, with its ominous reference to "the Participation Age, where every individual, regardless of gender or other characteristics, is poised to be a contributing and valued member of the global marketplace” and equally ominous pledge to "systematically and relentlessly pursue more economic opportunity in our [?] lands" and beef up America's military presence in a vast area that extends "from the Indian subcontinent to western shores of the Americas:"
One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in this region."
“After a decade in which we invested immense resources in these two theaters [Iraq and Afghanistan], we have reached a pivot point. We now can redirect some of those investments to opportunities and obligations elsewhere. And Asia stands out as a region where opportunities abound.”
"A more broadly distributed military presence provides vital advantages, both in deterring and responding to threats, and in providing support for humanitarian missions."
"What will happen in Asia in the years ahead will have an enormous impact on our nation's future. We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and leave it to others to determine our future for us."
And then there was the earnest antithesis to Clinton's comments articulated in the statement produced from the three-day indigenous-led Moana Nui conference, the antithesis to APEC:
We, the peoples of moana nui, connected by the currents of our ocean home, declare that we will not cooperate with the commodification of life and land as represented by APEC's predatory capitalistic practices, distorted information and secret trade negotiations and agreements.
We invoke our rights to free, prior and informed consent. We choose cooperative trans-Pacific dialogue, action, advocacy, and solidarity between and amongst the peoples of the Pacific, rooted in traditional cultural practices and wisdom. E mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono. A mama. Ua noa.
It was bolstered, inadvertently, but just as earnestly, by Makana's artistic/political statement at APEC's gala world leaders dinner last night. Once on stage, he opened his suit jacket to reveal the words OCCUPY WITH ALOHA written on a tee-shirt, and for 45 minutes played different versions of a strongly worded protest song, “We are the Many,” he'd released earlier that day. A few sample lyrics:
Ye come here gather round the stage-- the time has come for us to voice our rage – against the ones who trapped us in a cage --to steal from us the value of our wage
From underneath the vestiture of law --the lobbyists at Washington do gnaw – at liberty the bureaucrats guffaw --and until they are purged we won't withdraw
We'll occupy the streets --we'll occupy the courts --we'll occupy the offices of you – until you do --the bidding of the many not the few
In a separate video, released after the show, he discussed his song choice:
It was an incredible experience to sing those words to that group of people.
I found it odd that I was afraid to do it at first. I found that disturbing. I didn't like the idea of being afraid to sing a song I created. If that's what we've come to in the world, where we're afraid to say certain things in the company of certain people, I think that's a dangerous place to be. And so for me to move out of that space I had to sing the song, and that's what I did.
So what if we, the many, all dropped our fear and sang our songs, our truth, our longing for a different sort of future than the same-old-same-old pitched by APEC and its participants?