Friday, May 28, 2010

Musings: Experiences

On the one hand, when Koko and I went out walking this morning, was a scarlet-smudged sky. On the other was white, round Mahina, coming down from her full moon high. Beside and below her was the fully visible form of Waialeale, blue against a faint pink sky.

Pigs scuttled through the brush, raising the fur on Koko’s back and causing her to whine and strain against the leash. The moon, yellow now, kept sinking into a lavender sky, and the sun prepared to rise, shooting blue shafts of light into gold-gilded clouds that shortly became a riot of orange and red. Waialeale, in the process, was transformed from flat-faced gray-green into concave purple as birds burst into song and cardinals and shama thrush flitted across our path.

By 6:20 a.m. it was all over. The moon had slipped behind the mountains, the sun had slipped behind the clouds, the color had slipped from the sky and everything had changed, except for my experience of it.

I’ve been getting quite a lot of feedback on the "Parallel Universes" piece I originally wrote for ”Bamboo Ridge” that was excerpted in last Sunday’s Advertiser, and everyone has said they felt it accurately expressed their own experiences, things they also had heard expressed.

Most of the responses came from people I know, although I did get some very thoughtful comments from complete strangers, including a call from Anthony Ako Anjo, whose family is originally from Niihau and Waimea (they had the historic Ako Stores in Hanapepe and Waimea), although he now lives on Hawaii Island. He said:

The problem comes down to this, plain and simple: too many people living in a given space. A lot of what’s going on is based on anger and greed.

People have actually insulted me, you stupid Hawaiian. I’ve had it thrown right in my face, this is America. Well, the Nation of Hawaii was stolen by the U.S. government. It’s in the history books. I used to teach history in the public schools and even got in trouble for teaching kids this is what really happened to Hawaii. And a lot of that anger goes back that long, even before 1893.

I have been on both sides of the fence in which I tried working with people, mediating solutions for the greater good. If people can get to the point where they can just look at somebody as a human being that has a soul, no matter what god you pray to, maybe the world will get better. It all comes down to respect.

I was especially surprised to get a call from Jimmy Pflueger, who said the piece was “so true” before asking if I’d be interested in hearing his take on the subject:

Bill Huddy, a pure Hawaiian, at the time he was 80 to 83 years old, he sold a kuleana in the Kilauea area to the Marvin family from Newport Beach. When you sell a kuleana, you split it in half and they would not give him access to a path that led to his piece. He ended up going down a rope to get to his kuleana and his wife, she was in her late 70s I think, she had to go down that rope, too.

One day he came to me and handed me a paper bag. It had $40,000 inside and he said, I need a road to my house. I gave him back the bag and said I’ll build your road. Now Kilauea Plantation used to farm that land and one of their guys said he built a road for the plantation workers. He told me how to make the road, where to go, what to cut, so I did it and everything was fine.

One night I got a knock on my door and it was the Marvin’s son. He had tears in his eyes. He said I will lose my boat if I don’t get $20,000. So I went back in the house and I got the money and gave it to him. I never asked how he was gonna pay me back. The next day his wife baked me a pie and said thanks for being a good neighbor.

Then big rain came and mud came down from the road. Mrs. Marvin called and said I need a culvert and I need it now. The Marvins were using the Huddy’s road, because it was better than theirs. So I made the culvert and I got a $50,000 fine for making the culvert for Mrs. Culvert and a $500,000 fine for the road and 450 hours of community service. Their son was the one who turned me in.

I’m 84 years old. I was born and raised here. So if you think I don’t have a feeling for the newcomers — you lend them money and they turn around and nail you to the cross.

But I can see both sides. Newcomers have a right to use the beach. Some locals have an attitude, and I can say that because I’m a local. I think communication is a wonderful thing and if we all communicated a little more, the world would be a better place.”

And then there was this, from an African-American woman who lived on Kauai in the 1980s and now resides on Oahu:

I know lots of surfers and locals of all ethnicities, and remember a comment from one a couple years ago when I ran into him, "Have you been to the North Shore lately on Kauai? It is all Haole's!!! They have taken over the place and they treat us locals like we are crazy, put up huge fences and gates, it feels like the mainland."

It saddens me to see what has happen to Kauai, I moved here 30 years ago, because I was tired of the black/white issues on the mainland and the snotty people in Malibu where I was living (the only black person for miles). I left the fast lane, UCLA, Malibu and the mainland because things are a bit more low key here, the communities are mixed (lots of Brown people like me) the islands feel safe and removed from much of the discrimination, prejudice and violence on the mainland.

Bottom line, people with money have no respect for locals, they rape, pillage and destroy, the MO for America's greedy capitalist, it has been happening all over the world, with no end in sight as the classes move further apart.

All we can do, us citizens who believe in equality, justice and education is try and make a difference in our own lives first, our communities second and last our global family.


Anonymous said...

"People with money have no respect for locals" much for the BS about "Local Haoles" ...Do locals have respect for people with money?

Anonymous said...

We don't have respect for people with money that feel that their money can change the way we live.

Anonymous said...

Always playing the victim.Honestly it's very hard to respect people who are racist.

Dawson said...

"Honestly it's very hard to respect people who are racist."

It is indeed.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting blog and have been following it for a time. It does appear to me, just one opinion, that nothing will ever get solved here and opinions from those who contribute, either with name or anon, will not change because of this blog.

It is a good bulletin board of thoughts and true notions, taking ideas to the bone at times. The lead (Joan) should be commended for putting this out there. I just wonder what the real purpose is? It is like a really long dialgoue captured in last week's paper in one short article.

It's time to take this blog to the next level or let it float away...

Nice work though, commendations to the author.

Truth Justice The American Way (???????) said...

Joan, you might want to give the Marvins a chance to tell their side of the story. Might be a lot different than Pflueger's version.

Anonymous said...

Looks like it going state wide as it cozies up to the main naysayers of the islands. Or at least to Honolulu where there is decent food to be had.

Anonymous said...

She is our "Man from La Mancha" doomed to:
To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...
To right ... the unrightable wrong ...
To love ... pure and chaste from afar ...
To try ... when your arms are too weary ...
To reach ... the unreachable star ...

Go Jo!!

Unknown said...

Great concept for the advertiser article. Pretty raw to see these perspectives side by side.

It is worth noting that this local-visitor conflict can be seen in many tourist places. Locals in a beach community in Maine or California will have many of the same stories about visitors (although without the racial undertones).

The point is that there is a bond made between a person and their birthplace. It is difficult to create that bond otherwise.

Dawson said...

"...nothing will ever get solved here and opinions from those who contribute, either with name or anon, will not change because of this blog..."

...Which essentially says that words have no power to effect change.

History suggests otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I don't think "history" in this context was referring to any power embodied in blog comments, which are like so many dead leaves blowing in the wind.

It is more directed to the words of respected orators... the "change we can believe in" guy...

Dawson said...

"I don't think "history" in this context was referring to any power embodied in blog comments, which are like so many dead leaves blowing in the wind."

"Leaves in the wind" is not how it works.

Threads in a fabric.

"It is more directed to the words of respected orators..."

Respected by whom?

That power can only flow from the top down is another concept of the essentially colonialist, conservative, capitalist Westerner.

Unknown said...

dawson, you rock!

Anonymous said...

dawson, you rock!

A little repetitive, though. He has an easy formula to answer all things.

Dawson said...

"He has an easy formula to answer all things."

Whereas you have nothing to add but hominem.

Anonymous said...

The power elite rocks.

The little people suck.

Anonymous said...

"That power can only flow from the top down is another concept of the essentially colonialist, conservative, capitalist Westerner."

And we continue to rule the world.
I'm with them.

jackbauer said...

"It's time to take this blog to the next level or let it float away..."

Well I guess thatʻs not for you to say or do. Itʻs Joanʻs blog and we like it just the way it is.

Jealousy disguises itself in many ways, nʻest ce pas?

Anonymous said...

I don't see any fabric forming here.

Just individual opinions/rants that pass into history leaving no trace.

But if fabric is the metaphor of choice, development continues to weave its fabric...more like ballistic nylon with Kevlar in nature versus the tattered cheesecloth opposition.

Dawson said...

"I don't see any fabric forming here."



Anonymous said...

One would have to squint to see the mirage of ersatz reality embodied in these "yesterday dreamer's" comments.

Anonymous said...

"It is more directed to the words of respected orators..."

Respected by whom?


Relative to the "change we can believe in" orator I alluded to, the millions of adoring fans who elected him.

Hitler was a respected orator, too.

Never underestimate the power of "the cult of personality".

Anonymous said...

"Right" and "wrong" are meaningless.

Power is the only constant, wielded by the able and willing through:

coercion/leverage ("he had the pictures/texts/emails/...")
influence in all it's forms:
- moving oration (or speech writing)
- leadership charisma
- tag lines ("change we...")
- religion

Against those with the ability to gather power to themselves, there is little to stop them.

Being on the side of "right" or "justice" will not be sufficient to overcome power.

Dawson said...

"And we continue to rule the world."

Greece and Europe tottering, the Koreas on the brink, the Gulf of Mexico on its way to toxic wasteland, unemployment rampant, home foreclosures increasing, Wall Street as rapacious as blood-frenzied sharks.

Some rulers.

Anonymous said...

Greece and Europe tottering, the Koreas on the brink, the Gulf of Mexico on its way to toxic wasteland, unemployment rampant, home foreclosures increasing, Wall Street as rapacious as blood-frenzied sharks.

The Hawaiians must be about to take back the archipelago!

Anonymous said...

I also agree that your quotes accurately reflect social tension in Hawaiʻi. I personally feel so much anger inside whenever I read/hear about what I feel are things that should not happen, such as local environmental degradation and social injustice. I feel so angry inside. But I do nothing. Trying to care and work to a better Hawaiʻi just doesnt seem to amount to anything anymore. It hurts too much to care when everything is so bad. Itʻs so big. And so I just let it go and let myself remain part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

"Hurts too much too care." Yes it does. But even tho many have felt this way, please don't give up! Our comunity needs you!
My suggestion is instead of trying to change the whole world, just brighten the corner you're in. Even helping with one thing in our community speaks volumes. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Disbelief --> Anger --> Bargaining --> Depression --> Acceptance

The faster you get to #5 and complete the cycle, the better off you will be.

It's amazing how many people won't accept the inevitable.

Anonymous said...

I am a proud resident of Kauai, who lives and loves aloha each and every day. I love the beauty of the island and the true essence and spirit of the people of Kauai. The comments that were shared in Joan's "Parallel Universe" piece were said by some but I don't believe they are the majority here on Kauai. They don't speak for me. My family has been here for generations, and I don't say that to have fellow residents who are new to the island feel insecure in their residency. I say that so you know that we have learned to live Kauai, live Aloha, and we share it with anyone who come to experience our beautiful island. By sharing our experiences, we don't believe we're selling Kauai out, but rather sharing our Aloha.

I've heard some of the comments in Joann's article before. I can't speak for them but I have to believe that their kupuna taught them better.

Like some of the comments stated, this is a a place where people can just post their comments and I don't believe anyone here is right or wrong, but I have to wonder who is this helping? What was the purpose for the article being published? Again, I am a proud member of the Kauai community and there are many others out there who love and live Aloha on Kauai, who do as much as we can for the next person, and sometimes go without so someone else can survive, who believe in the golden rule and treat others the way we want to be treated, who gets emotional when we look around our beautiful island at the beautiful places and people and smile. We are the people who hurt when we read about things like this because we know how much we do to make this a better place. I know this problems exist no matter where you go but I ask all of you to really think about your purpose and who you may be hurting. Maybe others who share my feelings will come forward and then this will be more than a place to gripe. I often feel I have this "heal the world syndrome" where I believe I can make a different. Well, I DO believe I can make a difference and I hope my perspective may have made a difference to at least one person out there.