Friday, March 28, 2008

Musings: Conscious Politics

Awoke in the dead of night to complete and utter silence — punctuated by an occasional far-off rooster crowing — and marveled at the contrast when Koko and I much later went walking in a world filled with sound, all of it made by birds, chirping, cooing, trilling, tweetering.

White clouds rode atop gray ones and then turned to pink, burying all the interior mountains in fluff as we, too, moved through air scented by citrus blossoms and the faint smell of wet pavement from a light rain that fell in the night.

Chatted briefly with farmer Jerry, smiling as always, on his way to work, and was struck by how many people I don’t know wave to me from their cars as they drive by. There’s something wonderful about living in a place where people acknowledge one another, instead of making like you don’t even exist.

Ran into my neighbor Andy, walking one of his daughter’s dogs, as well as his own, and we talked about collecting. It seems the excitement is not in the having, but the acquiring. I don’t collect stuff, but I suppose I do collect experiences. They’re easier to maintain, and priceless, at least to me.

I had a rather remarkable one last night when I attended a session of Deeksha, the Oneness Blessing, in Kalaheo. A woman who had read an article I wrote in Spirit of Aloha called me out of the blue and invited me, thinking — based on what I’d written — that it was something I would enjoy. Such openings don’t happen often, so when they do, I heed them.

It turned out to be a meditation, followed by a hands-on blessing, and I definitely felt the spiritual energy. But what struck me most was sitting with a dozen total strangers and feeling such a deep sense of love and acceptance.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the failings of social movements and political systems, and discussing the issue with a few close friends. In abstract, so many of the concepts behind such efforts are laudable, but in practice they fall apart, largely due to greed, ego-tripping, the desire for power and other manifestations of unconscious behavior.

More and more I’m convinced that the answer lies in transforming ourselves, and from that process will come the profound shift needed to achieve a world that’s just, peaceful and pono.

Which is not to say that one should ignore what is going on or not speak out about wrong doings and injustices. Andy said he’d rather read about politics than spirituality in my blog, which got me thinking that a lot of our political problems stem from the absence of “spirituality.” And by that I do not mean religion or even any sort of spiritual practice, but consciousness, an awareness of the deep consequences of our actions.

That’s what I see is at the root of the debate over genetic engineering, especially when it comes to taro — an issue the County Council took up again yesterday. The Garden Island article on the hearing included this quote:

”Don’t fool around with the taro,” said John A‘ana, a Westside farmer for the past 30 years, who held up a taro plant as he addressed council. “The bottom line is you need to show respect for the Hawaiian culture.”

Although it’s good to see the Council debating a resolution to support a 10-year moratorium on GMO taro research, the real decision lies with the Lege, which is already backing away from the proposal. The House Agriculture Committee deferred action on Senate Bill 958, which calls for the moratorium, after a seven-hour hearing in which testimony favored the resolution. The action doesn’t bode well for the bill’s passage.

In other news, KITV reported last night that the Superferry — which it termed a “troubled vessel” — has moved out of drydock and is now awaiting Coast Guard inspection. The action contradicts those who predicted the damage it suffered in drydock would permanently sideline the big boat, a prediction I thought at the time was based on wishful thinking. Still, no passenger service is planned until April 23.

I got an email from a reader about the post In Defense of Wildness, in which I spoke against plans to extend the concrete bike path from Donkey Beach to Anahola. She said she had attended a meeting in Anahola about three years ago in which “the majority of the people
in the room ( Hawaiians) did NOT want it.” Once again, however, we’re faced with an agency, this time Department of Hawaiian Homelands, that is pushing ahead with the proposal regardless.

She wrote: “I would like to help stop the Path from invading Anahola...”

I agree. Enough concrete along the coast already. Councilman Mel Rapozo, who has an interesting new blog, shares this view. Who else can we get on board to stop this concrete snake from slithering deeper into the wilderness?


Anonymous said...

RE: Spirit of Aloha
"...The muddy runoff from the grading fouled the stream, the cove and then the ocean. I wept over her carelessness,..."

Nothing like a blatant fabrication...pure, utterly self-serving BS and you know it. Toss the shame of fibbing into the backseat and assume the mantle of the self-righteous--right on!

Joan Conrow said...

Well, Anonymous, if you'd been there, you would have known that what I wrote is the truth. And since you don't think it is, you obviously weren't there.

Kauai Sanctuary said...

You gotta admit, getting that bike path up along the coastline at Na Pali would ROCK!! What could be "greener"?

Andy Parx said...

I’m not sure whether we see things very differently Joan and I have no problem with people who have a personal spiritual center in them and use it to guide their actions in an altruistic, humanitarian manner.

What I do have a problem with is people who think that by just maintaining and then sharing that spiritual center they can through some kind of mass-think alone make the world into being a better place

Instead of real political action and involvement in their community, many retreat into an apparent apathetic powerlessness that they cover and rationalize by thinking candle-light vigils will stop tree-murders or that they will stop global warming by turning off their lights for an evening.

And for some, even those actions are too much of an intrusion into their self-centered “we’re spiritually superior to you political people” world. They prefer to sit around a naval contemplation circle than speak out at a Council meeting- and criticize those who do try to change things for not being religious enough.

Someone sent this to me today from the Urban Dictionary
Word of the Day March 28, 2008:
The act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem. Signing an email petition to stop rampant crime is slacktivism. Want to really make your community safer? Get off your ass and start a neighborhood watch!

Joan Conrow said...

I think your first paragraph is closest to my own sentiment, Andy. I believe it's important for people to engage in the world. Get enuf slackers already and pointless activities already.

Anonymous said...

Was there, know it is BS...even the part about the wood.

Anonymous said...

Also know that circumstances surrounding your departure were not as you have portrayed them...

Joan Conrow said...

Again, Anonymous, you were not there when all that I wrote about was going down, so you can't possibly speak to it with any first hand knowledge.

I have no doubt you visited the property after I left, and that you made your own assessments and heard Anne's version of events. If you wish to accept that as your truth, that's fine. Obviously you and Anne see things differently than I.

Anonymous said...

why can't you do both? gazing at one's navel(or someone else's for that matter)may lead you somewhere. contemplation has may virtues and the path to action may become apparent.
joining with others in solidarity has huge implications. large global events like this evening's earth hour is one of many way to participate in bringing attention to issues that are in need of attention (and action).
creating a just and peaceful world requires action and thought on multiple levels. individual and collective consciousness reflected in individual and collective thoughts and actions have profound impacts in in our day to day experience near and abroad. to think global and act local is the best example of this. kauai's very own M19 demonstration may be perceived by some as just a global group hug for all the peaceniks on our island but small events like that when added to larger events set into motion actions that have yet to be fulfilled. individually and collectively we all benefit when we share:time,space action or thought. namaste
peace,..........jimmy t

Anonymous said...

Good points, Jimmy. Here's my take on symbolic acts like the anti-war demonstration on the 19th:
Holding signs will never stop the war, so the goal of the event must be different. As I saw it and participated in it, I felt that the goal was popular education and encouragement to those involved and passerbys to take the next step of deeper involvement in the movement.
On Kaua'i, despite the superferry protests, we are quite a ways from blockading ports or occupying recruiting stations, but organizing symbolic protests with an eye to building up our courage and committment to take direct action down the line is an important step in movement building. But it is critical that as we organize we keep that in mind, and never view these symbolic actions as ends in themselves which let us off the hook from engaging in real effective struggle.

Andy Parx said...

You make a really good point Jimmy because I was speaking of the extremes. There is that soft middle where most ineffective- and an awful lot of effective- activism takes place.. I suppose there are a few exceptions that prove the rule. But they are those of a public relation bent- if you’ve got whole world watching your candle-light vigil on TV it could be the most meaningful political action of the day, week or month..

But a vigil is outside a jail where your people are incarcerated already I thought (heh heh).

I guess you’re right- you have to look at it case by case. There’s an awful lot of people out there doing something because it makes them feel better. It compensates for us all being forced to drive a car, use electricity and pay taxes for the war.

But hey- it’s a start- it’s more effective on changing that than oooommmming