The rain arrived very early again this morning, unbidden, but always welcome — one of those rare friends I’m happy to see drop by, unannounced, at any time of the night or day. Its presence overwhelmed the brightness of the moon, which is full tomorrow, and the interior mountains entirely disappeared behind masses of clouds.
The sun, now rising a bit later each morning, never did make a proper appearance, though it seems likely to poke its head out before the day is through. A friend from Hanalei called to saying he'd been up in the mountains for a couple of days, hooking `o`opu, which are heading downstream in preparation for spawning, while another friend offered to drop off a bag of mangos — the first of the season. Yum!
It’s not officially the solstice until Friday, but summer, for all intents and purposes, is already here.
And so, it seems, is the time of reckoning for the Hawaiian independence movement. With the Akaka bill, which would quash the dream of sovereignty forever, still alive and kicking, and the state pressing forward in its legal attempts to gain authority to dispose of the so-called “ceded lands,” things are starting to heat up.
I was interested to read a comment that Katy Rose, who has her own blog now, left on yesterday’s post. She stated:
Liberation has never been won in courts controlled by the imperialists, but in the battlefields and the streets.
Just as I was wondering why a progressive thinker would advocate the same old tired approach of armed conflict and violence, she added a second comment to clarify:
I don't necessarily think liberation must be achieved with blood-shed, but that the struggle must be intense and based on a mass movement.
Her remarks made me think of a statement made by Nelson Armitage Jr., the Reinstated Hawaiian Nation’s minister of foreign affairs, at the Nation’s convention this past weekend.
“We don’t have weapons of mass destruction," he said, "but we do have weapons of mass aloha.”
In the face of occupation by the most heavily armed nation on the planet, the kanaka maoli will never be able to achieve their independence through violence or armed conflict.
So they have the choice of either giving up, which doesn’t seem likely, or taking another approach. And that’s what the Nation is doing through its decision to wage its campaign to gain independence through the courts and the arena of public opinion.
Prime Minister Henry Noa said he has approached other nations “about recognizing us, but unfortunately, American dollars are stronger than what’s right. In talking with other nations America’s influence on them is really strong.”
Armitage also said that when he and Noa traveled to Venezuela to seek support for the Nation, there was much discussion about President Hugo Chavez’s famous speech to the United Nations, where he said the U.S. was on its way down and remarked, in reference to President Bush, “The devil came here yesterday. And it smells of sulfur still today."
“We live in the sulfur,” Armitage said, “yet we are still surviving.”
No empire lasts forever. We’re already starting to see the United States flounder economically, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are eroding both its resources and standing in the world, while leaving its military forces overextended. The players on the world stage do change. Just look at Latin America.
No doubt, the success of the Hawaiian independence effort ultimately will depend on mass international support. But it doesn’t seem that support will be gained primarily in the streets, but through political, legal, philosophical, moral and even religious avenues.
“Public ignorance is your greatest enemy,” Dan Hempey, attorney to the Nation, told those assembled at the convention. “Influence public opinion.”
Added Armitage: “We don’t need to be aggressive. We’ve just got to be humble and stick to the protocol.”
It’s a model that many are quick to dismiss in a world that operates on the maxim of “might is right.” But then, Hawaii isn’t like any place else on Earth. Shouldn’t its model for achieving independence be different, too?