I spent about an hour standing at the intersection of Ahukini Road and Kapule Highway at pau hana time yesterday, holding a sign that read: STOP DV.
I didn’t make the sign, or I probably would have chosen other words, but how, really, does one address the complicated, emotionally supercharged issue of domestic violence on a piece of cardboard small enough to be held on a windy day?
That’s why I tend to shy away from bumper stickers and sign holding; such expressions seem to do little to shed any real light on an issue. But sometimes it’s important to stand up and be counted, which is why about 60 or 70 of us — kids, men and women of all ages and races — showed up and stood there holding signs, listening to people honk their horns, seeing folks wave, give a thumbs up, flash shakas.
We didn’t do any yelling or waving of our own. We were there to honor Fredlyn Hoapili, who was stabbed 18 times, mostly on the left side of her chest. Her husband, Joseph, is accused of the March 3 murder, which was witnessed by their son John in the family’s Anahola [correx: Lihue} home.
That alone was enough to set a somber tone, although I’m sure more than one of us there was recalling some unpleasant memory of his or her own. I was thinking as well about John and the other children in the Hoapili family. According to The Garden Island:
There had been a history of violence in the Hoapili home. Court records show that Fredlynn Hoapili briefly filed for a protection order more than a decade ago alleging a wide range of abuse against her and her children before withdrawing the request days later.
Just days earlier I’d read a report from Science magazine summarized in The Week — neither article can be read on line without a subscription — that found abuse can actually alter the functioning of a child’s DNA, making him or her more vulnerable to stress and depression into adulthood. The study, done at McGill University in Montreal, found:
The flood of stress hormones early in life prevents these genes from “turning on” properly, making life much more stressful and painful. It’s as if their nerves are exposed, with no defense against negative experiences. As a result, abused children have a much higher incidence of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide.
And so the cycle of misery and pain continues.
Near the end of the vigil, Chief Darryl Perry showed up and joined the line that was stretching mauka. I was glad to see him there, and told him so, and on the way home I reflected that his place at the end of the line was an apt one. In domestic violence, the cops so often do represent the end of the line.
Yet it also struck me as ironic that the resolution of a situation based on the dynamics of power and control is so often dealt with through power — the cops — and control — locking up the offender. I’m not faulting that, because it’s one way to diffuse a volatile situation and when you need back up, believe me, you’re damn glad the cops are there.
But where do we go from here? Yes, we’re making some progress through education and counseling and public awareness, but still, nearly all our relationships with animals and other human beings, whether individually or systemically, on a personal or global scale, are invariably based on two underlying dynamics: power and control.
Until we can figure out how to behave in a more collaborative fashion, I don’t see much hope for ending that cycle of pain and misery that plays out as domestic violence in private and war, terrorism, racism, sexism, imperialism and oppression in public.
Meanwhile, the ongoing struggle between America and the kanaka maoli for control over land took an interesting twist on Maui yesterday when members of the Reinstated Hawaiian Government were cited for trespassing after camping at Waihee park. According to an article in the Maui News, which was picked up, and shortened, by The Advertiser:
"Is the county the legal property owner? We want the documents showing they're legal," Nelson Armitage of Haiku said as police vehicles and officers lined the park entrance.
"Inherent sovereignty, that's us," said Armitage. "Inherent sovereignty is the proper claimant (of Hawaii lands). The Reinstated Hawaiian Government is the proper claimant.
"It's not right to possess stolen goods," he said, referring to the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom.
The police apparently won't be the only issuers of citations. Armitage held a clipboard with a list of 19 officers' names neatly printed on yellow-pad paper.
"They give us citations. We give to them, too," he said with a smile.