Hawai’i in the year 2035. The story describes life in Hawai’i once it regains sovereignty, which was taken from the Hawaiian people in 1893 with the overthrow and imprisonment of Queen Liliʻuokalani and the subsequent annexation by the United States.
In Laenui’s imagination, by 2035, the island nation has not only recovered political independence but also some of the foundational concepts of Hawaiian indigenous culture.
The values of Domination, Individualism and Exclusion, what Laenui calls the DIE culture that predominated under colonial rule, have given way to traditional Hawaiian values of Oluolu (comfort, non-domination, compatibility), Lokahi (group consciousness and effort), and Aloha (inclusiveness, with a sense of humanity, love, caring). Laenui refers to this Hawaiian-based culture as OLA, which, he points out, is also a Hawaiian/Polynesian word for life and health.
In Laenui’s prophecy, the economy is founded on the principle of self-sufficiency for necessities—which contributes to a sense of security for a nation thousands of miles from major ports. Traditional agriculture, foods, and fishing practices are making a comeback, along with a culture of reciprocity with the natural world.
The nation has adopted a strict non-aggression stance, but has the capacity to defend itself should need arise. Massive U.S. military bases and bombing ranges are no longer on the islands—the land has been returned to agriculture.
Health and well-being is a central concern, beginning when mothers first conceive and the community comes together to support the mother-to-be and her child.
“We have to be willing to criticize our ancestors. We are not moving to the past; we are free to move as we determine!”
Is there room for non-indigenous people to participate in this newly independent nation, I wonder? (Asking for a friend.)
The culture of OLA is deeper than any one tradition, he tells me. It is echoed in cultures from all over, like the Ubuntu philosophy of South Africa.
Although deeply informed by the ancestors of today’s Hawaiians, it is important to be critical of past practices, even those of our ancestors, he says.
“We uplift ancestors as if they are gods,” he said. “We have to be willing to criticize our ancestors. We are not moving to the past; we are free to move as we determine!”
Moreover, it is difficult to determine who is a Native Hawaiian. Intermarriage means many people are Hapa (“a little of this, a little of that”), he said. The Hawaiian culture is accepting of people of all races. East Asians, for example, make up a large percentage of the populations in Hawai’i, and Buddhism and other Asian traditions already add much to the evolving Hawaiian culture.
This doesn’t worry Laenui, nor is he worried about non-Native Hawaiians speaking the Hawaiian language or practicing the culture. “The more people who adopt our culture, the more will, over time, see themselves as Hawaiian,” he said. “The more people we include, the more powerful and supported we are.”
|SARAH VAN GELDER is a co-founder and columnist at YES!, founder of PeoplesHub, and author of The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-Mile Journey Through a New America.|
The Traveller’s Guide 2035 Edition
Hawai`i Pōkā Laenui
We take you to the northwest section of the island of O`ahu, where we find a population of 50,000 (5 percent of the national total of one million) scattered across this ahupua`a of mountains, valleys and seashore known generally as Wai`anae. We begin our visit with this part of O`ahu as a “hologram” introduction to the Hawaiian nation. Travellers who last visited these jewels in the expanse of the Pacific while they were still US colonies will notice the small and large changes that have since occurred.
The population has remained relatively stable over the past 25 years. Forty-five per cent are native Hawaiians mixed with other ancestries, with a further 40 per cent of mixed ancestry without native Hawaiian, and the remaining 15 per cent unmixed and consisting of Asians (Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.), Caucasians, other Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Africans and others.
A similar racial mix characterises the population living in other parts of this island country, although larger pockets of the native Hawaiian population can be found in Wai`anae and other rural areas, as opposed to Honolulu, the government and business capital and the centre of international relations. Whether one approaches Honolulu from rural O`ahu or from neighbouring islands, there is an increasing number – as many as 15 per cent – of non-mixed Caucasians, Asians and other newer arrivals, in that order.
Many had anticipated major shifts in population after Hawai`i attained independence, with many non-natives expected to leave the islands. While US military and civilian personnel did depart en masse, many “locals” (native and non-native Hawaiians) returned and now form the bulk of the national population. Those who chose to remain in Hawai`i could either opt for Hawaiian citizenship and participate fully in the country’s political life, or retain foreign citizenship, with consequent limitations on such participation.
The indigenous Hawaiians, regardless of citizenship, are accorded special indigenous rights consistent with international conventions.
racial group dominates Wai`anae, a deep Hawaiian culture prevails and
influences all facets of community life. This culture is markedly different
from that which dominated prior to independence, and was a major force in the
drive towards independence. Under the US colonial regime, there was a clear
distinction between the formal system (legal, economic, education, environment,
health and national security) and the informal system (family, personal,
community and friendship). The formal systems were characterised by the values
of Domination, Individualism and Exclusion, giving rise to the so-called DIE
culture. The informal systems were influenced by values of `Oluolu
(comfortable, non-dominating, compatible), Lokahi (group consciousness and
effort), Aloha (inclusiveness, with a sense of humanity, love, caring), and
were generally referred to as OLA (which is also a revered Hawaiian/Polynesian
word for life and health).
Finding that DIE culture was driving relationships in national and international affairs and in the natural and human environment, as well as economic conditions, health systems and virtually all other formal systems, towards collapse or termination, the nation engaged in a concerted exploration for an alternative value system. Hawaiian deep culture, very much alive, had extended far beyond the descendants of the original Hawaiians.
This deep culture, which called for cooperation, caring, sharing and respecting individuality while cherishing the value of the collective, had proven effective in accepting and appreciating the integration of races, religions and viewpoints. An OLA economic system was surviving and thriving in the local communities. During the dreaming phase of their decolonisation (the third phase, following the recovery/rediscovery and the mourning phases1), the independence “activists” called for a concerted effort to replace DIE with OLA in the formal systems. This paradigm shift was resisted initially, given the uncertainties and lack of experience among the bureaucrats running the formal systems.
Following vigorous discussion and examination of experiences in Hawai`i and elsewhere, appreciation grew of the possibilities of a shift from DIE to OLA. Widespread adaptation occurred in the laws guiding the judicial, economic, education, health and security systems.
This OLA orientation has made deep inroads into and helped change the Hawaiian lifestyle.
Nature and OLA
Kumulipo is the native grand story, a telling in genealogical chant form of the evolution of the world from darkness (po) to light (ao), when water and land separated, bringing life from the sea to the land. In this story of origins, the people’s first ancestors come from the natural environment and, as the generations unfolded, the people came into existence. Hawaiians have deep reverence for all aspects of the environment, all ancestors, personal guardian spirits and god figures. The Hawaiian relationship with nature is not one of domination and control, nor of stewardship, but of kinship, of family relationship, of caring for the wellbeing of a loved one. Sustainability is a small part of environmental policy. The overriding sense is that of honour, of responsibility, of caring for one’s elders.
Before a large tree is removed for the placement of a home, great effort is made to consider alternative positioning, or in moving rather than destroying the tree. If the tree has to be moved or destroyed, a proper ceremony is generally in order, honouring the life of the tree. Likewise, great thought is given to selecting the place to grow large trees.
Fish, net-harvested by local boats, are first fed at the ko`a (special fish-gathering places) and allowed to grow before the harvest. Older fish and those ripe with eggs are released back into the sea. The harvest is shared with those who assist the fisher folks in coming ashore (generally those too poor to afford their own canoe or skips for fishing).
This national policy is enshrined in the country’s constitutional preamble:
1 See “Process of
Decolonization”, Chapter 11, by Laenui in Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and
Vision, Edited by Marie Battiste, UBH Press 2000, in which all five phases
of Decolonization is explained.
We recognise all the divine elements of Hawai`i – life, change, fluidity, stability, humanity – and all the natural elements that give physical representation to those elemental forces, namely sun, wind, sky, fresh water and salt water, land, including the mountains and forests, and the people.
Many in the Wai`anae community, especially in their hula forms, revere the winds, each with its own name, the ocean waters, the tides whose timing and direction are familiar to the fisher-folks, and the plants and animals. For many families, these elements represent family ancestors and guardians.
Echoing a Gandhian view that there are enough resources for everyone’s need but not for anyone’s greed, the community understands that every environmental element needs to be protected and cared for to refresh the mo`omo`o. A mo`o is the lizard form of a foetus, and a mo`omo`o is a poetic reference to the generations within generations into perpetuity.
The transformation from DIE to OLA regarding the environment required a re- evaluation of fee-simple ownership, of the commodification of nature, of the nature of the “commons” and of the Hawaiian concept of heightened appreciation of the spiritual presence in nature.
Today, Wai`anae has been able to transform its primary source of sustenance by returning to its natural environment, by protecting, cherishing and promoting it as part and parcel of the human family. Certain areas of Hawai`i, primarily Honolulu, have not been able to make the transition in the way the rural communities have.
The nation is making a concerted effort to return to its traditional ahupua`a system of cultivating the land and ocean, and is developing a clear appreciation of the inter- relationship between them. Lands are being returned to agricultural production, and housing developments are being reversed and given over to food production. One tell-tale sign of this change is the conversion of previously grassed areas along roadways into vegetable and fruit gardens maintained by neighbourhood organisations.
Economy and OLA
Hawai`i has taken control of its domestic as well as international economic systems. Under colonial rule, the US pre-empted all international relations, controlled banking and other finance institutions and prohibited even the printing of the local currency by the communities. Today, all international intercourse, including trade, tourism, international education, world sporting events and international conferences (important revenue factors for Hawaii), is based on treaties, conventions or executive agreements between Hawai’i and other nations and international organisations, without US intervention.
Large tracts of US military lands in Wai`anae (the US controlled approximately 30 per cent of Hawaii’s lands), used for practice invasions of the Middle East, Asia and Central and South America or to store nuclear weapons and to house global military communication systems, have been returned to the Hawaiian population and by and large given over to agricultural production.
Hawai’i as a
whole has witnessed the departure of the US military, with a consequent
reduction of US revenues into the economy. On reflection, however, the people
found that Hawaiian society suffered a net loss under US occupation. The
massive military bases such as Schofield, Hickam, Wheeler, Pearl Harbour,
Lualualei, Makua, were
previously used by the US military for nominal or no payment. The fair rental values for these lands, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, went unpaid for over 100 years.
The return of these lands to the Hawaiian population was a major boost to the self- sufficiency of the nation. Some of the lands have had to undergo cleaning and remediation, for example the Pearl Harbour area from nuclear radiation, remnants of depleted uranium on Hawai`i island and other pollutants at Lualualei ammunition depot, the most extensively damaged US super-fund site.
Most of these lands have been converted to agriculture, as well as for residential use under a new scheme to house agriculturalists as close to their fields as possible. The mono-crop days of sugarcane or pineapple are over in Hawai`i. Instead, multiple crops are produced for local community consumption. Significantly, Hawai`i is now able to produce all its own taro and poi, a staple among early Hawaiian people. It now has a thriving dairy industry, an industry that had virtually died under US globalisation and free-trade programmes.
The national policy is one of independence through self-sufficiency, of meeting all the nation’s needs and being free to engage in international trade for luxuries beyond the necessities of life. Thus, there is still an import trade in communications technology, education and entertainment, while the export trade is dominated by tourism, agricultural products and health promotion.
The surrounding Pacific now plays a much larger role in the Hawaiian economy. Not only is there renewed appreciation of the need to care for the shoreline, but Hawaiian jurisdiction has been extended through the creation of a 200-mile exclusive economic zone (Hawai`i has signed the Law of the Sea Treaty) around the Hawaiian archipelago, which has brought in its wake an expanded fishing industry to these islands. The Hawaiian government has invested in the protection of this zone, policing it against the long-line, seine net and other fishing methods used by foreign ships, with devastating consequences for the fish population. This renewed interest in fishing has given rise to new young masters of the sea, who combine Western and traditional fishing and seafaring methods. Interest in the sea is one of the most popular areas of study in public schools.
Local ocean products now make up 30 per cent of the produce sold in Hawaiian markets, with a further 60 per cent made up of local agricultural products.
Barter has become popular in Hawaii. It started with the onset of the collapse of the Hawaiian and the world economy under the Bush II administration, a collapse that cast its shadow over the Obama administration in the US. The Hawaiian analysis was that the system was facing a currency and credit shortage, but certainly no shortage of human skills and talents, nor of natural environmental potential, let alone human needs. In response, the local economy incorporated two developments, one from the Hawaiian cultural practice of kokua (help, support), and the second from the new technology of rapid and simplified account keeping. Huis, or organisations of families, and other types of cooperative (churches, civic clubs, cultural groups) formed to provide services or products to support the local community, eschewing currency and creating a new form of credit (credit with caring). Other communities have adopted similar “free exchange systems”, called LETS or SEL in France.
These huis sometimes combine to expand the
resource base and cover a wider range of needs, so that the requirement to go
further afield to meet one another’s needs is
reduced. Today, huis commonly provide food products and service; medical and other healthcare; home repair, construction and general labour services; physical fitness and training; childcare; general and specialised education and tutoring; legal services; automotive and mechanical repairs; and electrical and plumbing services.
Money still plays a role in the economy as a convenient form of trade beyond the hui.
In many employment fields, people are paid in Hawaiian Kala ($dollar), with huis
interacting as banks, and one’s hui credits equating to Kala should a member wish to make such exchanges. Hui economies are stronger in the rural areas such as Wai`anae, while the monetary system has greater influence as one gets closer to Honolulu.
International banking, on the other hand, is well developed and plays a major role in Hawai`i’s economic life, with money and credit regularly flowing across international lines.
National Security and OLA
One of the principle stumbling blocks in the move towards independence had been the security question, with US loyalists arguing that Hawaiian independence could never survive without US defence against foreign invasion.
Today, in Wai`anae, one can see the population engaged in various martial arts, as part of the national security plan. When asked how he expects to defend his country using his expertise in karate, a young lad said, “Karate keeps my mind and body sharp and healthy, keeps my resolve strong, and helps me to focus – very necessary, whether I’m acting as a trade negotiator, a peace intermediary, a mechanic, an airplane pilot or in armed combat to resist foreign military on our shores”.
The Hawaiian security plan rests on five OLA principles.
- No aggressive weapons and force (no nuclear weapons on Hawaiian land; no rockets with a range of 200 miles beyond Hawaiian shores to defend against incoming weapons) and no offensive military force: The Hawaiian national guard, during the period of US hegemony, consistently outperformed its US military counterparts in training and mock combat. At independence, the technology, training and hardware remained with the guard units, and modernisation has been ongoing within the limitations of the five-point policy. As such, Hawai`i has been able to maintain a protective umbrella against air or sea attack through its defence systems, but has no capacity to strike any main body of land, given its limited rocket capacity. Hawai`i has adopted an open inspection policy and invites other countries to verify its non-aggressive weapons.
- Self-sufficiency: This policy has resulted in reduced vulnerability to foreign trade and world production variations. Humanitarian compacts have been formed with various countries for essential aid, including food, medical care and disaster relief.
- No international military alliances: Foreign military cannot use Hawai`i’s ports or bases, all arriving ships and planes are subject to open inspection, and neutrality is pursued in all military operations around the world. As a counterbalance, Hawai`i exports peace corps cadres around the world to assist countries engaged in military operations to arrive at peace. It also hosts the
East-West/North-South Peace Institute, which gathers peacemakers from countries facing various degrees of antagonism to study pathways to peace.
- Strong civil defence: This begins with a healthy and alert civil society, well trained to take part in a national resistance strategy against any invasion. The aim is to make it so costly for an invading force to land in and hold Hawai`i that in the end staying in Hawai`i will not be worth the losses an invading force would suffer. This defence would take the form of pre-organised insurgency across Hawai`i carried out by an active force of every able-bodied person from 12 to 65, infused with national pride and entrusted with specific responsibilities under the civil defence plan.
- International renown: The nation is developing Hawai`i’s reputation among all nations as a place of peace, fairness and environmental appropriateness, as well as a place at the service of the world through the hosting of international organisations, trade and world education. It encourages development of international education institutions for training national leaders from across the world and from all cultures and religions.
This non-offensive five-point OLA strategy has already benefited Hawai`i in engendering an attitudinal change among the various countries visiting Hawai`i and in giving rise to invitations for Hawaii to cooperate with those countries in the following areas:
- China – increased trade and exchanges of students in the fields of law, healthcare, language and culture
- North Korea – cultural exchanges, family exchanges and reunions between north and south in Hawaii’s Korean centres, sister-city relationships
- Cuba – conference on survival under the shadow of the bear, practical medical training in service of the masses, international law
- Iran, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, United Arab Republic, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Russia, Sweden, Norway and Finland – world conference to secure a peace treaty to end the Crusades, as well as multiple conferences on cultural exchange and the exchange of medical knowledge.
The pre-independence tri-annual East-West Center’s Philosophers Conference has now become a large international affair with participants from all parts of the world and across all political divides. New views on mathematics, science & technology, the integrity of indigenous sciences, political developments and innovative forms of alliance are some of the results of these conferences. Mini-conferences are now sprouting up in other parts of the world, borrowing from the milieu of aloha found in the Hawai`i conferences..
Education and OLA
The mantra for Hawai`i’s
education system under US was “school to work”. Young scholars were to be
readied for harvesting by the military and by industrial and business
complexes. Public education was mandatory from the age of five to 18, and
included as core courses English, maths, science and history (civics), all of
them taught from an
American-Western perspective. Achievement was measured through standardised US examinations, geared towards middle North America.
Today, schools have been revamped. Education is seen as a life-long process, beginning with the community baby shower festivities at which expectant mothers are invited to celebrate the coming of a child through a community aha aina (feast). At such gatherings, women are encouraged to maintain healthy lifestyles, obtain prenatal care, form linkages with others in the community to share the psychological, financial and relational burdens of pregnancy, and to consider the many forms of childcare, ranging from adoption, to shared rearing, to respite services, etc. Churches have been major supporters of these voluntary festivities. Wai`anae’s programme logo, “every new birth is a joy”, is aimed at encouraging mothers, often without benefit of marriage and criticised or shunned by family, to join in the celebrations and to share their burdens with others wanting to help. These celebrations have found both pro- and anti-abortion groups working side-by-side to provide parents with real opportunities to bring babies to term and support the child after birth.
Postnatal medical services are made available, helpers are assigned for follow-up and other support is provided to mothers or the primary care-givers of the child. Children are raised in an environment of shared activities, and can thus build social skills from an early age. Mothers generally volunteer and receive training for these community services.
As each child enters primary school, they are already familiar with social interaction.
Their special needs are quickly identified and addressed. Every effort is made to keep every child in the main school population as they receive education. Children are used, especially because of their well-developed social skills, to assist in the teaching and caring of other children. Inappropriate conduct is immediately recognised and addressed.
Reading is heavily stressed from a very young age, following a philosophy that from zero to eight, a child should learn to read, and after that, read to learn.
Teachers are also encouraged to watch for the special talents and gifts of children, and begin to set forth educational programmes based on those gifts. The experience has shown that gift-based education, individualised for each student, is far more effective both in terms of the general happiness of each scholar and of the standardised scores as measured against US students’. The system of grade levels has been abandoned: the earlier system of A, B, C, D and F has been changed to pass or not yet passed. The school campus has been expanded to include the community, and it is not unusual to find students actually “in school” throughout the community, whether on beaches surveying the tides against the moon cycle, in the mountains engaged in an archaeological dig, or talking to a priest, imam, rabbi, kahuna or monk as part of their studies of comparative religions in the community.
Public education is mandatory from ages five to 18, with special exemptions for release after age 12. Generally, these exemptions are made because the student will be travelling, going on to higher education or has selected specialised training in a programme not available in the public education system.
Education is considered lifelong, and the policy is to provide “adult education” courses as much as possible. Volunteers are welcome and are encouraged to teach such courses.
Healthcare and OLA
Wai`anae seems to be a walking and cycling region, with some public transport (bus and ferry) and a few vehicles, generally at least one per household. No new car is brought on to the islands until a used car is returned to the manufacturer. The same applies to other major appliances and car parts. All school buses have been retired, and students are expected to get to school by walking, cycling or taking public transport. School is never more than five miles from one’s home. Jogging to and from school has become a fad.
house seems to have a garden, and for those in apartments there are common
areas where community gardens flourish. Large circular fish tanks, twelve feet
in diameter, are powered by solar air-pumps, which circulate the water, while
well-placed air-stones act as biofilters, allowing for controlled algae growth
to balance water quality and allow the fish to thrive. The filtered waste is
carried into gardens
by water and is used in the growing of fruit trees,
vegetables and herbs.
The mountains, valleys and seashores resound with activity.
One could easily think one were in China, given the slow, graceful and methodical practice of tai chi, chi kung, luk tong ken, baduanjin and other forms of exercise and meditation evident in the mornings and evenings along the seashores, in public parks or in family yards and on porches. In the afternoons, more active sports are a daily affair, ranging from organised soccer teams and baseball, to indoor or outdoor badminton, volleyball, basketball and tennis. And ever-present drumbeats fill the air, signalling the Hawaiian hula, that union of spirit and body in motion, which is performed whenever a group or halau come together in homes and parks.
The medical and mental healthcare system in Hawai`i is relatively small for the size and age of the population. This contrasts markedly with earlier times when care services were in great demand and were based on fees for specific services. That financing structure bankrupted the health system. Pharmaceutical companies made large sums, as did insurance companies and health management organisations (HMOs). However direct service providers found great difficulty in remaining in the medical field given reduced reimbursement rates, authorisations for services controlled by HMOs or government agencies, and continued scrutiny and paperwork so burdensome that eventually expenses outstripped practice revenues. Direct service providers from medical doctors to nurses to case managers and administrators left the field in quest of a more sane system of care.
People began to ask why the system rewarded illness rather than health. Why was there a constant rejection of death, rather than acceptance? Why were so many funds directed at caring for the ill, and so few for keeping the healthy well? Why had there been such recourse to treating illness as a solution for wellness? What had happened to ancestral practices for maintaining good health?
Old and new ideas emerged from these questions: Work is medicine! Live and eat as your ancestors did! Your medicine chest is in your backyard, care well for it! Harmonise your spiritual and physical self! Accept the seasons of life gracefully! Aloha in the healing art is not the complete solution, but is a necessary part of it! Use it or lose it! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
The financial breakdown of the medical model of healthcare resulted in the increased practice of wellness. A change in the philosophy of life and nature occurred, in turn engendering new respect for the environment and man’s relationship with nature.
Physical fitness was heavily promoted from the national defence and security perspective, by education institutions and by the health sectors. Fitness was sought not only through exercise, but physical exertion also became more widely accepted in daily life. Fishermen found that while the outboard motor was convenient, the tides, the winds and a sturdy paddle applied with strong back and arms were more dependable and less expensive.
Walking and cycling regained popularity, while the internal combustion engine lost it. The general environment improved with the decrease in air, water and soil pollution as a result of this lifestyle change.
Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, anxiety levels and a wide range of other illnesses plummeted. Traditional Hawaiian healing forms took their place alongside oriental and Western medical practices. Traditional healers are now scattered around the settlements of Wai`anae and most other communities, and there is at least one Chinese herb shop centrally located in the towns, along with a few Western medical clinics. Rapid communication systems, converted for medical use, are found everywhere, whether in homes or medical offices, and used for rapid care and consultation. Blood tests and scans of tissue, bone, nerve and chi force can be done from the comfort of one’s home, with quick preliminary diagnoses made in return. Automated external defibrillators and other types of emergency equipment are close at hand in the community. Special concerns can often be answered by telephone calls to practitioners. Every home has access to these modern forms of care.
Enjoy your visit to the newly independent Hawai`i.