You Can’t Get on a Canoe Without a Real Plan
by Joni Kamiya, Hawaii Farmer's Daughter, June 27, 2015
As I was looking at my dad’s papaya seedlings the other day, it really made me realize how things in nature are a reflection of our own lives in many ways.
Every single papaya came from a single seed that was carefully bred and planted with care. My dad crossed his Kamiya line with the Rainbow papayas to get his customer favorite, Kamiya Gold. This little seed was carefully dried up and stored until it was time for planting.
The papaya seeds were then placed into vermiculite to help sprout them in the protection of his greenhouse. If it weren’t for this, the seeds would be attacked by slugs, snails, birds, and the elements at this early stage. As these seedlings grow larger and stronger, they are transplanted into larger pots, and eventually grow large enough to be field ready. Daily care is needed daily to ensure strong and healthy plants.
In addition to preparing the seedlings, the field must also be readied for planting. This in itself takes months to prepare. Cover crops are grown after each field is plowed back when the trees get too tall to pick. The crop itself takes months to grow. The soil must be plowed after cover crops have matured to encourage breakdown of the organic matter. It will take sometime for the bacteria to fully compost the cover crop to replenish the soil. Drip lines are also put in and the field is marked to set the proper row widths. Once the field prep is done, small holes are dug to place the foot tall seedlings into.
Once that field is planted, the trees will need fertilizer, pest control, and watering. Dead leaves are picked off the trees to prevent damage to the fruits and some are even thinned out to ensure enough space for each one to grow. After about a year, those trees will be ready for harvest.
I realized that our lives are very much lIke these plants. Everyone has the potential to develop and give back to others, just like the trees nurtured from the seed to plant. We all start off on the same but the experiences we have and the inputs we are provided or denied, shape us throughout our lives.
Like seedlings, people have some set basic needs to even start off right. Plants need medium, air, water, and sunlight to even start growing. Once it uses its own food store and grows larger, it needs other elements to grow and produce fruits. People are no different as they need the basics of food, water, and nurturing. Without these to start with, neither plant nor people will be able to thrive. The plants that don’t have the basic needs met will likely never be able to reach its fullest potential or will need extra care to make up for the effects not provided early on. It’s the same for people.
As the person matures, just like a plant, their needs change but they will still need the basics and even more to become productive. The trees will need more nutrients from fertilizers and some pest control to decrease the stressors on the plants. By providing added nurturing, the trunks and roots become hardier to withstand the harsh elements. People will need to learn skills via education and parental guidance and good role models to instill values that will keep them on the right path. There will be constant distractors that can eventually stunt the tree and hindering its growth. The added inputs set the foundation on which that person can excel upon just like the trees being able to provide delicious and nutritious fruits for years to come.
When living things aren’t given the basics early on and don’t have the right foundation to start from, these organisms can’t fulfill its maximal potential to become productive beings. As a farmer’s kid, I had everything I needed in life and learned the value of hard work, perseverance, and striving to always to do a good job. It is our nature to thrive, seek opportunities, do things better than before, and develop relationships. We as humans are always seeking to nurture each other as it comes from our instincts. Like my dad’s trees that had all the inputs needed early on and cared for throughout its life, they provide the sweetest and most quality fruits around as a result of using tried and true lessons learned over the years.
Hawaii is a hot bed for anti-everything activism. We have lots to be against here. If you live on the Big Island, you can be against geothermal energy, the Thirty Meter Telescope, and open ocean fish farming. Go to Maui and you can be against GMOs and sugar cane burning. After that, you can head to Kauai and join the anti-dairy and anti-GMO folks too. No matter what your interest, you’ll find something to be against. It gets pretty tiring that everything new is being blocked. Simply being staunchly against progress isn’t human nature.
The act of blockading things and denying our own instincts are counterintuitive. Many of us have a desire to help others in some form or fashion and to do things better. It’s in us to strive for that. However, like a plant being denied nutrients or a baby denied human touch and love, neither can ever fully meet its full potential if the basics aren’t provided. The nature of blocking biotechnology to farmers who are poor or use old chemicals to protect their crops keeps everyone else who depend on that farmer from having a productive and reliable food source. Halting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea delays the funding of scholarships and revenue for education in the poorest county in our state. Using a nebulous term like sacredness to fight a battle shows they fight a war based in ideology and not one with a working and living vision for the future.
Without access to education, we all stand to lose when the children aren’t able yo overcome the fearfulness of their parents. They won’t be able gain opportunities to rise out of poverty and the cycle continues in the next generation. Shutting down the sugar cane or biotech industry on Maui takes away from opportunities of hundreds of people who keep the lands in agriculture and erases a key link to our local roots. Relying on misinformation to achieve such goals is also against people who have a conscience and sense of caring of others. The anti-everything people accept misinformation, acts of vandalism, and threats against others who speak in support of advancement. They can only see a world of black and white and in concrete, literal terms because they have never been exposed to the world beyond their own eyes. Progress is frightening to those who live life through only what they read and see on the Internet or what their fellow family member tells them. The world is scary when you haven’t fully opened your eyes and actually learned about what’s happening with technology and research.
We are always learning lessons throughout our lives of what works and what doesn’t. We have learned to be more efficient and do much more with less. We use technology to achieve this. It is in our nature to continually ask questions and find answers to them. Those who choose to be willfully ignorant and don’t truly research what’s happening around us are like stunted plants who never fully produce anything tangible for others. We also desire knowledge and value education as a society where everyone has equal opportunity to achieve a higher goal and give back to our communities.
It’s time to stop and think about the anti-everything mentality. It is totally opposite of what the human spirit wants to become. In societies where this was crushed and it was not considered a value, have people flourished and led the world in helping others? Have these societies nurtured their people to willing give back and care for others? The truth is that the anti way of thinking has crushed the human spirit and by doing so, has people forgetting that those who live with freedom should use it for the betterment of others in this world. There is plenty of suffering around us and why should those with everything be the ones adding more to it. The sad thing is Hawaii is turning into a place where a loud minority are willingly crushing spirits and dreams of the few who have that desire.
We need people who are willing to go up and beyond what is the norm here in Hawaii. We can’t let naysayers with no strong vision for the future dictate policy here in Hawaii. They take away dreams and aspirations of our young people and close off minds with fear and unsubstantiated beliefs. Nor do these people ever offer facts since that will cause people to question their movement.
My dad said that we talk about the crabs in the bucket mentality thinking it’s the lowest ones pulling people down. He said it really is the top ones, the leaders, who are not fighting to get out of that bucket and lead people over and out beyond the comfort of that bucket. The mentality that science is propaganda and progress can be denied is what’s going to sink Hawaii’s ability to get anywhere in the future. How can we ever grow our base of innovators, problem solvers, and community contributors to make Hawaii better when being anti-everything is glorified? It’s just ain’t cool to protest and not have a real plan for everyone.
Even the early Hawaiian canoe voyagers knew that they just couldn’t jump in a canoe and paddle out aimlessnessly into the vast ocean. They studied the stars, weather, and ocean to gather knowledge and developed a plan. They even figured out the best design of a vessel to take them on this adventure. They planned this voyage with the intent of living in a new place by bringing along animals, plants, and other supplies to sustain them when they get there. A lot of thought and effort went into this plan before it was ever launched. As a result of good planning, cooperation, and leadership, the Hawaiians managed to make it here and establish their unique culture.
Humans are always striving to be at their best and get somewhere in life. My ancestors had that same idea which is what brought them to Hawaii. The ancient Hawaiians also did the same things when they headed out in their canoes. No one would have ever been here if our ancestors sat around protesting and never coming up with a real plan. The journey of getting to our destination and striving towards a vision didn’t start with protesting the thing of the moment. We are here because of a lot of thinking, nurturing each other, and leaders with the guts to inspire us to get somewhere. That’s the culture needed now.