I Long For the Aloha Spirit
by Joni Kamiya, Hawaii Farmer's Daughter, March 14, 2015
When people think of Hawaii, many imagine sunny, warm days spent lounging on a beach towel getting some sun. Being in this beautiful paradise is intoxicating for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s idyllic to many but the reality is nothing like that for many of us who are born and raised here.
My friends and family live completely different realities than those romanticized views of being in an island state. The high cost of living forces many of us to be working to make a comfortable living. I know of so many people who work 2 full time jobs to afford their rent or mortgage. Many of my friends live with family to try to save on housing. We have to shop in bulk to save on food costs. We drive our second hand cars for years to avoid more debt.
Many of us have cared for loved ones at home to preserve their resources since nursing home care runs $13k a month or more. Very few of us can be stay at home moms to afford basic living costs. Despite taking all of these measures, local folks are still struggling or throwing in the towel with living here.
My last blog post on this issue was posted on Civil Beat, a news media founded by a wealthy business person, Pierre Omidyar, at the request of one of the editors there who came across it. I know how slanted Civil Beat is towards the activists but still agreed to share it. Well, it is of no surprise that the commentary to follow was mostly activists once again. They know my name well as I hate their ugly tactics against my dad’s farm and other ag folks. I refuse to be intimidated by their hateful comments against me.
Sure enough, the uglies came out in force with that post. There were accusations of me being part of the chemical cartel to supporting putting a gun to the queen’s head and wanting to revive plantations that were slave supported. Others sent comments on my blog that agriculture ruined Hawaii and that big ag is the sole reason for our high cost of living. Some commented that I must be living beyond my means which is why I can’t afford it here. Some suggested that I turn off my circuit breaker to save on power which makes no sense and can cause more damage than good. I even got a good share of Hawaiian Sovereignty folks wanting their old Hawaii back to the days of the queen. The most detracting comments seemed to come from people who didn’t read or understand my message. The comments are just mind boggling and saddening.
It’s disgusting to say the least and clear that these people know nothing about local style. They never grew up here and can’t share the experience local folks know and cherish. Some are still angry about events that happened a century ago. I’m not wanting to go back to those days. The recent newcomers have no attachment to these memories that live in us. However, it’s these media outlets and these kinds of people that are trying to shape Hawaii.
We residents are leaving our homes and allowing neo-locals in changing every aspect of our state. When Civil Beat continues to fuel slanted stories, it chips away bit by bit at the Hawaii home I grew up in. We are seeing a Hawaii aloha when younger generations leave and don’t come back.
Who can help bring back that specialness to Hawaii? It’s those who know it the best, those born and raised here as well as those who come to learn about Hawaii and respect local ways instead of immediately trying change it. Those are the folks our leaders need to listen to. We need to demand policies that actually help people make a go here. We need more diversity in high tech and diverse jobs here to attract our young people back. We need affordable homes and goods so people aren’t going broke just to have a roof over their head. We can’t turn back the hands of time, but we can restore that feeling of aloha back to our communities.
We don’t need politicians seeking popularity wars and trendy legislation. Using catchy slogans to base laws upon like “protect the keiki” and “stop poisoning paradise” and so on. We need restore facts and rational thinkers back to the table. How can we make things better for everyone? What are the real issues that need to be addressed? How can we keep our local talents here and bring them back if they left? Where is that sense of people working together to solve the problems at hand?
We need aloha restored in our islands. That’s what I hope will happen. That is what I long to see grow so that my children can live that feeling that I so miss. It’s this feeling of aloha that heals communities and helps us all thrive as we live and grow together. This the the Hawaii I want!
Related: Hawaii is Not the Hawaii I Knew