Mauna Kea From My Non-Hawaiian (But Kind of Okinawan) Point of View

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Recently, with the world watching the fate of Mauna Kea unfold, I also began to question the importance of its protection. Several determining life experiences have affected my thoughts of whether or not the construction of 18 story high observatory should be supported. First of all, I have been married to my husband, Alex, for almost 14 years. He is very analytical, while I am very emotionally driven when it comes to making choices. This is why we make a great pair when making family decisions, but, I digress. Secondly, I lived in Okinawa for a year, this is the land of my ancestors, and while I was there I strengthened a bond with them that, as I sit here blogging, trascends over space and time, and there is a phrase for that connection taught to me, by my Sensei Frances Nakachi, to be “tukeya hizamitin” or “transcending hearts.” Finally, my children are always watching me. Through every. thing. we are connecting them to what has been passed on for hundreds and thousands of years. Through what we feed their bodies, minds and hearts as parents, we are showing them what we value as our parents and grandparents taught us through their words and actions consciously or unconsciously.

So now that I have established a little background about a few of my life experiences, I will share with you how I wavered greatly with my feelings about the observatory construction. Being the very balanced married couple that we are, some of Alex’s analytical sense had rubbed off on me and he has learned to consider one’s feelings before sharing his very truthful observations (there is a very funny story about us going on a sushi date and he mentioned that I should be able to at least eat the same amount as him since my stomach was obviously bigger than his). Back to Mauna Kea, many of the questions I initially asked myself involved why science and spirituality can’t get along. Must they be separate? I even went as far as thinking, can this observatory be an enhancement to Mauna Kea procuring a connection to the Universe? On and on my brain went on to justify that the observatory would be good for all people of the world. This may just as well be the same reasons for many who support the construction of the observatory. Later when I read Ed Morita’s article in Frolic Hawaii, I became more convinced that my position was a well supported one. However, for me, I guess, even though I thought of so many good reasons to move forward it did not sit right somehow in my heart. As I write this blog, my discussions with Alex still vary back and forth, and, there are many good arguments that can be made to support the construction. Even with all that, my relationship to my own Motherland, is the single reason I support the protection of Mauna Kea. When this connection was brought to light, I knew with all my heart that Mauna Kea should be protected.

I began to think of a place in Okinawa called Sefa Utaki. It is the most sacred place in Okinawa and people come from around the world to feel its divine, rejuvenating power. Created by the goddess Amamikiyo, Sefa Utaki overlooks the Kudaka Islands. The lush forest, unique rock formations, and caves are her precious treasures. Holy waters drip from stalagmite formations. How saddened I would be if ANY construction would take place at such a beloved sanctuary that has been sacred since the beginning of Okinawa’s history. At this thought, I knew in my heart that Mauna Kea should be protected. No analysis needed, only tukeya hizamitin – my connection to Okinawa and my ancestors. This is a knowing that indigenous people have even when they return to the Motherland that they weren’t even born in, but where their ancestors originated. This is the connection I feel the Hawaiians want to protect, and it’s hard to justify it to those who have not experienced this feeling of connection, but, have so many analytical reasons why we should construct. Is the love for your child less real than the smart phone in your hand because you cannot see it? My friends have shared a powerful video that explains the perspective of those who love Hawaii and are protecting Mauna Kea.

My children are growing up in Honolulu, and right now it’s more important than ever to take them out to play in sun and in the ocean. Technology is so accessible and constant that it takes more effort to unplug them, throw them in the car, and connect them with the land. They need to be in nature so that they know that everything we need to live comes from nature. Sure people can create phones, computers and cars no problem. Food, air and water come from nature. My grandparents were not necessarily strong spiritual people, but they lived off the Hawaiian land, said itadakimasu (expressed gratitude) before each meal, and worked in the yard. It was easy back then to be akin to the land and constantly reminded that it was the land that took care of you. I believe that protecting Mauna Kea is not a protest against technology but protecting the ties of Aloha that transcend through time and space.

If you feel moved to protect Mauna Kea, complete the petition here:  http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/protect-mauna-kea-stop

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