Live the Words You Speak
by Joni Kamiya, Hawaii Farmer's Daughter, June 3, 3015
It’s pretty clear right now that the anti-TMT activists aren’t about coming to the table to find common ground. They want no part of Mauna Kea being “desecrated” by the telescope. It is once again a black and white choice with no compromises, which is not surprising at all.
The parallels between the anti-TMT movement and the anti-GMO one are just too eerily similar. It’s the same kind of tactic where ideology is being used to justify their stances. The anti-GMO one believes that the multinational corporations are poisoning people and messing with nature. There is no evidence that supports this claim but so many think this. The anti-TMT stance is that Mauna Kea is being desecrated as it is considered sacred. Despite many actions like snowboarding and ATV riding occurring up there that make it really questionable if that really is the case. Some even feel that protecting the mountain equates to protecting their culture.
If these people are protecting their culture, why are they so hateful and disrespectful of their own people who support the TMT? A high school student, Mailani Neal, started a petition to garner support for the project. What happened to her was really telling about the true intent of the activists.
The price Mailani paid to speak out was extremely intimidating and just outright ugly. Like the anti-GMO movement’s tactics, the activists did the same thing with sending death threats and bullying in an attempt to discourage her from speaking up. Her own people were behind these attacks.
I can’t help but think that this idea of protecting one’s culture to the point of being mean to a fellow native demonstrates culture gone bad. If Mauna Kea is the mother, would she allow her children to send death threats of bullying among her children? Would she support the loudest of the bunch of the crowd rip apart her fellow children? No mother would support such actions and stand by it.
There are even kupuna and so many Hawaiian leaders seeking to shut down the project claiming that the protection of their culture justifies that they take away opportunities from their young people. Some have even encouraged their fellow Hawaiians to reject science. These people feel that nothing should be built and none can consider the consequences of what would happen if they take things away. They are ready to deny their own from fulfilling his or her dreams.
When has it become a culturally acceptable thing to say hateful things to the younger generation and dismiss their aspirations? Why are adults try to tell others to reject science when they themselves have all benefitted from it? Why is it okay to spout misinformation and emotional arguments for the sake of protecting your culture? Would any parent want to see her child acting in that manner. I doubt it. These people are using Mauna Kea to act badly and take away opportunities from their own in the name of sacredness.
What is happening here is the same as anti-GMO protesters telling Kamehameha Schools to stop leasing lands to Monsanto. Much of the leases help fund the school’s educational mission to improve the lives of the Hawaiian people. I sometimes wonder if all of these protests are intent on denying education to the native Hawaiians. It appears to be that way. They must want no one to pursue higher education to gain further opportunities. The message their action sends is that it’s better to not learn science as it conflicts with their cultural belief system.
Both anti-GMO and the anti-TMT protesters talk about rising up and not joining the sheep. The thing with breaking away from that behavior of herding is that it may be freeing and exhilarating initially, but in reality, it leaves the rest of the people more vulnerable. The ones most at risk from the predatory behaviors are those who break away. They leave the group with their own goals with no real idea of the harsh consequences they may face in nature. If the radicals encourage others to follow the emotion fueled bandwagon, they impact everyone. When the adults break away with their children, it leaves everyone in danger to all the predators like poverty, drugs, and homelessness. When leaders of our state try to appease these people, it only sends the message that this kind of behavior is acceptable and encourages more of it. What will be left of our society when those who put everyone at risk is put in charge?
A culture is not defined in a mountain, plant, or a word. A culture is defined by how people act and treat one another and the lessons we teach our children. Do we help our fellow person by attacking them for their opinions? Does our actions reflect on how we want our children to behave? Does our actions inspire our keiki to strive at being the best they can be? Are we setting the best example to others when we refuse to acknowledge the facts and collaborate? Are we preparing the right foundation for the future in the stances we take? Have we did our part to improve our well-being as well as others?
Culture is a living and breathing being. It’s not the ahus (altars) built or the taro grown or a mountain for that matter. It’s how we live, the examples we set, and the goals we strive for. It’s advancing our knowledge and leaving a real legacy for our children to follow and continue with each generation. It goes far beyond the sensationalism of selfies at protests and TV appearances.
Live the culture you speak of in word and action. That will live on forever in your children and their children. We can care for the land and do what is righteous but if the action taken seeks to destroy communities and divide families, we can never effectively function as an ohana. Hawaii’s culture is one of lokahi, where seek bonds to work together for a greater good. That to me is what a culture should strive for.
The ahu was built by many hands working together. It’s a symbol that the entire community must focus upon. Each rock has a different history in its origin, shape, and size. They all sit upon each other to build a greater structure. That is the epitome of what our communities in Hawaii can become if we embody the symbolism of these monuments.