The world was suffused with moisture when Koko and I ventured out this morning. It clung to the leaves, dampened the pavement, hung low in the pastures as mist. Scents traveled far in the heavy air: angel’s trumpets, burned rice, spider lilies, newly cut Norfolk pine.
The moon was still bright in a sky that was quickly growing brighter, and when the sun rose — a warm, salmon-pink shimmering orb — it was in direct opposition, literally and figuratively, to the cold whiteness of the moon.
I saw a convoy of about 10 African snails, of widely varying size, creep along a concrete block wall, headed off, no doubt, to consume tender young green things, and watched one feeding on a snow bush. It clung to the branch in a sort of hugging embrace that looked innocuous enough until I realized it had completely devoured the leaf beneath its body.
It seemed an apt metaphor for the script that’s underlying the popular paradigm for relationships — you know, the “can’t live, if living is without you” suffocation variety — and it reminded me of a talk I had with a friend yesterday afternoon. She recounted how she’d realized that she and her partner had purposes in this life that went beyond their connection to each other, and when they could allow one another the freedom to pursue that, even though it meant living apart at times, they could each bask in the pride and joy that came from seeing the other fulfilling their greatness, rather than wallow in the self-pity of deprivation.
That, it seemed to me, is real love.
After the snail revelation, ran into both farmer Jerry and my neighbor Andy, and the talk turned to yesterday’s blog, which generated a number of comments, including one from a person who asked:
So, moving forward.... How do we bring more Filipinos in? Japanese? Does anyone have any real cultural insight to offer?
No one offered any, so I asked around and got some answers as to why more locals aren’t currently involved in the environmental/slow growth/anti-urbanization movement.
I’ll start with my neighbor Andy, who said a lot of it’s historical. He referred to George Cooper’s “Land and Power in Hawaii,” which notes that one reason activists were successful on Kauai early on is because “the movement involved a probably greater proportion of locally-born people than had been the case on any other island…” Kauai’s movement originated in the local community, largely through the Niumalu-Nawiliwili Tenants Association, which formed in the early-to-mid 1970s to protest the planned eviction of about 20 families in that area for development, and also through the Ohana O Maha`ulepu.
As more haoles got involved in the movement, Andy said, their aggressive, loud, confrontational tactics served to turn off some locals, who tend to be fairly conservative socially.
I saw this at the Senate hearing on the Superferry last year, which a number of those early activists attended. But they did not join the mostly haole throng inside, and instead sat together outside, with some commenting, who are those guys in there?
Some locals don’t want to associate with the people who are in the movement now, especially since they don’t know a lot of them, while others, Andy said, are like him: just tired. They’ve been in the trenches for 30+ years.
Farmer Jerry offered this suggestion: They've got to go out to the Filipino and other communities and work with the leaders there, which means they've got to be willing to share power and be open to doing things in a different way.
“They don’t understand how deep the distrust is. The locals have been screwed over so badly by the haoles.”
“It’s been a melting pot, but these guys don’t melt. Because they’ve isolated themselves. They’ve got the money and that’s the life they’ve chosen.”
“Sure, they want you to come to join them, but it’s all on their terms. They want to be the ones in charge. You have to do it their way.”
“The ones coming in now, they all get money. They don’t see how the locals struggle just for survive. We no more time for be one activist, even though we feel it in our hearts.”
“They don’t have a clue what’s gone on before them. They think they invented this.”
“They set themselves apart, how they act, where they live. They just talk to each other and think that’s how it is.”
“Just because we don’t come to their meetings, they think we no care. We got our own ways of doing things.”
Perhaps this will help to shed a little light on the subject. The antipathy, it seems, runs deep. I’ve been reading Isabella Bird’s “Six Months in the Sandwich Islands,” which was written in the 1870s, and I was struck by the great cultural divide that existed between haoles and Hawaiians back then.
It’s not just the missionary thing, or the colonial thing, but the money/privilege thing that has long created distance between haoles and all the other ethnic groups in Hawaii. And from what I can see, that’s still a huge factor in the gulf that exists today.