"The darkest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of moral crisis." - Dante
"Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called." - John Stuart Mill
"All generalizations are dangerous, even this one." - Dumas
Walking down Kalia Road I spotted a pickup truck with the bumper sticker: "Born & Raised." My niece and nephew who live on the Big Island are born AND raised in Hawaii; but as niece's teacher taught her years ago in elementary school: "You are native to this place, but you'll never be local. Because her parents were haoles/caucasians from the mainland, perhaps even more damming: Pahoa town hippies. That sounds racist, and may have been an insensitive thing to tell a little girl in front of her entire multi-cultural class, but by passing through my outrage I have permitted some deep sociological truths to arise to my attention.
These islands have long been loved and cared for by the people who first found them: the Hawaiians. A second wave of contact with Tahiti brought the harsh KAPU (taboo) & human sacrifice to these shores. The islands battled within themselves for centuries, but according to strict and somewhat humane rules of war. Island xenophobia is nothing new. . ."O`ahu was NICE before Kamehameha dem/them came ovah heah!" ;-)
Kamehameha was a young Big Island/Hawaii chief when Cook landed-returned- offended and was killed in skirmish. (A forlorn plaque commemorating the great navigator is still to be found at Ke-ala-kekua - "the way/ala of the gods") Ka-meha-meha, the 'Lonely One,' heard Cook speak of his Queen, an Ali`i like young Kamehameha himself, who ruled a vast empire that covered the whole world from her own dear island. In those days, rival chiefs still held pieces of the Big Island, and Kamehameha realized that it was perhaps his destiny to unite his native Moku/island. When a lava eruption wiped out Koa/warriors on their way to battle him (their footprints can be seen to this day, set in lava rock) it appeared that Tutu/grandmother PELE, the fire goddess who had built the very islands, was favoring him. After all, he had lifted the great boulder - akin to Arthur pulling Excalibur from a similar looking stone - that is still seen today in Kohala! Next he built Pu`u Kohala, the very impressive Heiau/temple that stands on a big hill above the Alenuihaha Channel. From there, Maui's Haleakala peak is seen in the mists beyond that choppy, challenging, passage. The lonely, restless chief turned his attentions to the other islands of the archipelago.
Perhaps the lonely one merely wished to avoid becoming vassal to the English Queen with her floating cannons and great reach. He preferred that his islands remain 'lonely' in this newly broadened world. Kamehameha "The Great," as he was destined to be called, wisely acquired his own Englishman, John Young, who brought rifles and taught gunnery with the great cannon that the Hawaiians had named 'Lopaka.' (Young married Ali`i, became one, and is buried in sacred ground among them at the Royal Mausoleum in Honolulu. the Hawaiians of his day didn't refer to the English chief as a haole, but simply as a Kane Kea: a white man.)
In 1795 Kamehameha's army landed at Waikiki's Kaimana Beach, near Diamond Head, and forced O`ahu's defenders inland and upward in pitched battle. They gradually retreated to sacred Nu`uanu Valley. I was on the street in Waikiki that night 100 years after that battle, when dozens and dozens of Native Hawaiians wearing red shirts, blowing Pu/shell trumpets, and carrying ancient weapons, marched from Kaimana, the 'wrong' way up Kalakaua Avenue, through Honolulu, and up to the site of the battle. Waikiki was hushed that night in wonder at the sight. Night Marchers/ghosts, it seemed, were passing for once under bright streetlights. Usually these apparitions are heard, or more rarely seen, in quiet rural Island districts.
Lopaka roared in 1795, echoing through the pristine valley above today's Honolulu, driving the O`ahu chiefs and their warriors ever higher up the foot hills of the Ko`olau Mountains. Today's 'Puiwa' Street recalls the fear and trembling of the defenders. Ultimately, fighting raged right up to the cliff's edge, and the O`ahu warriors spilled over the famous Pali in helmet, weapons, feathered cloaks and defiance. Such was the courage of those Hawaiians of old. (Herb Kane's painting of the Pali Battle always reminds me of the mythic painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware, or childhood visits to Valley Forge - these are our Arthurian founding myths.)
The Hawaiian Monarchy, it's questionable overthrow, the inflow of immigrant labor from China, Japan, Korea et al, have all left their mark on these islands and our culture. The Hawaiians hanai'd/adopted the new plantation workers. White folks and King Sugar were in the ascendancy. All those Kanaka/Hawaiians and workers created a common language: Pidgin. They ate, labored, suffered, shared and survived together: They were the first "Locals."
So being "Born & Raised" does have resonance in our dear, tiny, fragile islands. These shores have seen successive waves of "new people" seeking advantage on the blank slate of their fond imaginings. But we locals continue to welcome the whole world with true Aloha. Really. Come see for yourself. Though there is a blessed state of mind, of life, still called "local," those who come here, who listen, learn, and care to understand us; those who struggle, care and share, and who have ceased speaking of 'home' elsewhere, CAN become local, I believe.
I was born and raised elsewhere - but I really grew up in dear Hawaii among unique (and perhaps uniquely challenging!) conditions. Now I could never live anywhere else.
And my bumper sticker? Perhaps it would these two: the ubiquitous "Live Aloha," and my own personal: "Voyaged here. Lived and loved here. Became a human- being here." A L O H A! Cloudia