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State of Repair - Extended Version

6 Leaders Discuss Power & How to Fix Hawaii

(page 6 of 8)

Matsumoto: I think, again, it boils down to leadership. Leadership has to have vision. It’s not just about getting things done and getting things done faster. It’s to what end are you trying to get things done? I think, what I see as being a problem, is that a lot of public decision making has been very ad hoc. It doesn’t tie in to some vision, in terms of where we’re going and why we’re trying to get there. I’m kind of reminded of something that Nainoa Thompson talks about when he talks about wave finding. When you sail on a voyage, it’s really important to know where you’re going, why you’re going there and what you’re going to take with you on that voyage. But it’s also really important to think about what are you leaving behind and why are you leaving that behind? For us, I don’t think we’ve thought enough about those things. I think if we do it just for economic reasons, then I think we’ll be going down the wrong path because I lose the quality of our lives and all the things that made us choose to live here. I think we have to be real careful about that.

Apoliona: From the principles, the philosophies, these decisions and engagements occur. The future is not reliant on one personality leading the charge. I really think this is the time for collective leadership.

Burris: How do you achieve that?

Matsumoto: I was kind of hoping that the Hawaiian community would provide the spiritual and cultural guidance because clearly, I think for most of us, it’s that cultural foundation that’s made Hawaii a special place.

Apoliona: I think that as the host culture or the native people, it is the foundation of how life proceeds and moves forward, but it doesn’t just stop with the Hawaiians. These type of values are a lifestyle of living in the Islands and has to cut across all of our communities. In the essence of the Hawaiian culture, there’s at least a spark. And there are tried and true practices over the ages that have historically helped in living in these Islands.

Cayetano: May I ask you, such as?

Apoliona: I think we have to look at how we’re going to balance the natural resources; how we work with each other. You talk about character and leadership, there are some lessons and guideposts in leadership and interaction between policy makers, business leaders, community leaders, grassroots leaders. It’s about interrelationships. This is my manao.

Burris: Hooponopono?

Apoliona: Well, hooponopono in the very broad sense in trying to keep things on a good path in working with each other. But when you say you’re going to do something, you do it. You don’t make commitments and then not deliver. That’s an example. When you try to communicate in a way that’s civil, respectful. Also, the term haa haa (humility) doesn’t mean being a doormat. It’s understanding when you have to lead something and understanding when you have to be a player on a team. And all of that makes a difference. So those are examples of how we should interact as people – whether they’re Hawaiian or non-Hawaiian; local or non-local. People can instill that and carry it with them in their interactions here and outside of Hawaii – but here in particular. We might have something greater going, but that doesn’t happen over night.

Matsumoto: To me, those of us who were born and raised here or have lived here most of our lives, we develop a certain consciousness. I think it has to do with the fact that we live on an island. And I think what Haunani’s talking about is basically that we’re very conscious and sensitive to the fact that we have limits. As a result, we act with restraint, both in relation to how we use our resources as well as how we interact with each other. Then we become very conscious of our interrelationship and our interdependence. Because of that, we realize that we have to resort to collective action. So it’s not about one person or leader. It’s about all of us coming together as a community to accomplish things. To me, those are the kinds of qualities that define our culture and our lifestyle in Hawaii. I think we’re losing that because we have a lot of guys coming from the continent who have a continental perspective. They think there’s unlimited opportunity, unlimited resources and they can just exploit it all.

Perreira: What it comes down to is like what Kitty said a little earlier about the environment being different. We’re in a global economy. We need to find a way to protect the spirit of living here while adjusting to a much different world around us. I agree completely. We all have developed – whether we were born and raised or have lived here a long time – a sense of what it means to live here. For example, helping your neighbor out when you really don’t have to, which doesn’t happen elsewhere. But I for one am afraid. I have three teenage kids – three daughters – that I fear will not stay. They all love living here. My wife’s from West Virginia, so they have a different perspective when we’ve gone to visit the Mainland, but if we lose that sense. ... So without making the adjustments, we’re in for a tough future.

Lagareta: I agree with everybody. When something bad happens here, whether it’s in your neighborhood or across the state, everybody’s together. We just look after each other. Everything you said is true, Colbert. But I can’t reconcile that all the time with the fact that I’ve seen some of the ugliest power players and battles in the state that I think you see anywhere, and you see it consistently. I think they’re ugly; they’re about personal power; they’re about personal agendas, and they go on constantly. So there’s a certain part of who we are on one level and there’s another struggle about who’s going to run this small pond; who’s going to have the power? And it’s inconsistent with what we all say and love about Hawaii.

Apoliona: There lies the challenge.

Cayetano: I think what Haunani was talking about is not so much a question about whether the person lives her or was born and raised here. I know people from the Mainland who come here, and they’re much more concerned about, for example, the resources and the environment than local people who take things for granted. I remember when I appointed Charlie Ota (vice president, military affairs, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii) to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. It created a little ruckus (everyone laughs), but Charlie said, “All my life, I felt like I was a Hawaiian.” It’s like what FDR said: Americanism is not a matter of your skin; it’s a matter of your heart. That’s what should be kept in mind. I’ve got to tell you, Haunani, some of the people who are leading the fight for Hawaiians are hardly humble and they’re very antagonistic, and if you go to the University of Hawaii, they teach people how to hate other people.

Apoliona: Just to be clear, I’m talking about the values and the culture. People, whether they’re Hawaiian or not, can live, discard and abuse the values and the culture. It’s like what you said, governor, come from someplace else, and you got it; the values are with you. That’s why some people never leave here.

Matsumoto: I think what you’re saying is true, Kitty. I take back what I said about being born here. A lot of people that I know who were born and raised here, don’t have that consciousness; don’t have that sensitivity. So, it really is about education, culturalization. It’s about whether or not we create the context that will foster that kind of sensitivity and consciousness. To create that context, we have to have a vision. We have to know what you’re aiming for.

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