Friday, September 28, 2007

Musings: Two Communities

This morning it was my own restless sleep of vivid dreams played out against a cacophony of crowing — two of my neighbors raise fighting chickens — that prompted me to leave my bed earlier than usual.

Sometimes it’s hard to get up, but the moment I step outside, I’m always glad I did. There’s an excitement, a quickening of the pulse, that comes from being out before dawn, watching the day unfold. It’s a new discovery daily.

No pigs today, just three bicyclists, chattering loudly and panting as they pedaled uphill. I don’t mind conversation when the sun’s up, but prefer silent stealth when it’s still dark.

Heard a discussion on the radio yesterday about how Kauai residents can build upon the momentum of the Superferry controversy to deal with the many issues that face us, including traffic, trash and all the new development geared toward transient types who have a penchant for supersized homes that they only occasionally occupy.

Don Heacock, our state aquatic biologist, called in to make a good point. There are two communities here, he noted. There’s the broader one that includes people who care about one another and the island. And there’s the corporate community, and all it cares about is profit.

That divisiveness is nothing new, of course. On Kauai, it goes all the way back to the first sugar plantation. But it’s important, as we discuss the Superferry conflict and other issues that confront us, to recognize that while we all are connected, there are people on this island with vastly different values and competing interests.

The tendency among some is to seek common ground; surely, I hear people say, we’re all alike in our love for Kauai. I don’t believe that. Plenty of folks are willing to sell out the island, and each other, and many know only dysfunctional love.

It isn’t always possible to reach consensus, or come up with a win-win solution, and a lot of time and energy can be wasted in that pursuit.

What’s crucial for all of us who care about critical issues — and face it, many don’t — is to get clear about our own values, to ensure we are informed and firmly rooted in our understanding of what’s pono, to connect with others who are on the same path, and to strive always to come from the heart.

And as my friend Daniel Kunimura so wisely noted: “We’ve gotta ask what Kauai wants. Because she’s just like you and me, brah. She lives and breathes.”

That's our common ground.

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