Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Musings: Cost of Culture

Big squalls blew through repeatedly last night, dumping some much needed rain. The clouds mauka were thick this morning, so the full moon was hidden from view. But as I finished my walk, I looked back, and spotted a rainbow illuminating the clouds.

My friend Kaimi and a couple of his friends stopped by yesterday on their way to Kahoolawe. They were amped about going to a place where Hawaiians — and their way of doing things — dominate, but bummed about the cost. With island access fees of $120, plus $140 airfare to Maui and four lost days of work, it’s not easy for young men who make their living cleaning yards and trimming trees to come up with the cash to connect with their culture.

As Kaimi pulled camouflage pants over his surf shorts and donned a camouflage shirt and cap, all I could think was, mahalo ke Akua that we don’t have the draft. And my heart ached for all those young men and women who are living the nightmare of military service in Iraq, often because they face the same economic challenges as Kaimi and other kanaka maoli.