What We Hope to Be
“This island represents all that we are and all that we hope to be,” declared President John F. Kennedy upon his arrival on Oahu in 1963. As you look around, all that we are is obvious: Everyone and nearly everything is from somewhere else. Even the original Hawaiians came from islands far to the south, while waves of immigrants and refugees included disapproving missionaries, bloodthirsty whalers, sugarcane workers from China, Japan, the Philippines, Portugal and beyond, mainland escapees and more. Most recently, Micronesians whose islands were poisoned by American nuclear tests decades ago have added to our population. They came … they come … they will keep coming.
What we hope to be — what we pledge to be — is a place where everyone is welcome. Even as the nation debates in unprecedented ways who is worthy of crossing the threshhold into America, we want to give, we want to share. It is who we are. It is aloha.
Missing: a Thousand Words
I go swimming every day, nearly, and typically nearby. The closest beach to our home in Palolo is in Kahala, where houses and their prices don’t know when to stop growing. Last week I saw something amazing, although I can’t prove it: the picture worth a thousand words is missing.
As I was getting out of the water, a young fisherman beached his one-man kayak. Long and sleek, it featured a hollow interior where you could put a fish if you caught one. (I never do; for me it would hold snacks.) The fisherman reached inside and pulled out a 30-lb ono … then a 50-lb ono … then a 20-lb ahi. I was flabbergasted. In all my years here, I have never seen such a thing.
It was around noon, and the man had been fishing since early morning, miles off the coast. He was taking the fish to auction, where I suspect he swapped them for $500 or so.
“Is this a typical catch for you?” I asked.
“Pretty much,” he replied.
“How often do you go?”
“Whenever my wife lets me.”
“Say, don’t you catch ono and ahi by trolling?” I persisted. “How the heck do you do that?”
“Paddle as fast as you can.”
I only wish I had a picture. …
Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
It’s brand-new year. A fresh playing field sprawls in front of us, though some might claim that 2016 has pinned the home team inside its own five yard line, the game nearly over. Ain’t so!
In Hawaii we celebrate how just and joyful life can be. The aloha spirit is very real, a gift we cherish with the intention of sharing. It is the act of living consciously, sustainably, aware of inequalities of circumstance and committed to making things better for all. In that, it is quintessentially American and Hawaiian alike.
Please accept this gift. Take it home with your tan, your purchases and your memories that likely will last a lifetime. With aloha, 2017 can be our very best year ever.
Hauoli Makahiki Hou!