A not so vague sense of uneasiness is casting a peculiar hue over the easy pace
of life on Kaua’i.
A Hanalei resident, upset at an unusual number of
criminal reports in his North Shore neighborhood, suggested that people should
think about arming themselves.
Another, worried that the police department
wasn’t doing its job, reminded this newspaper of its duty to report all
In the wake of the murder of a Hanapape woman, people
in this tiny Westside community have altered their daily habits, suddenly wary
of blurred perils they’re not accustomed to worrying about.
The other night
I woke with a start when a light breeze rattled blinds in the windows above my
bed. Worse, I had to talk myself out of fantasizing some strange omen when a
bright red and very confused bird spent hours in the dead of night assaulting
the lighted windows of my second-story bedroom.
For the past two months,
big bold headlines above stories on the front page of this newspaper have told
tales of violent crime and reported bizarre incidents of missing persons. These
aren’t the kind of stories we’re used to reporting. And the frequency of their
occurrence in this short period of time may be unprecedented.
apparent pattern to these incidents. No rational person could link the ghastly
death of an ‘Ele’ele woman set afire by her husband in the heat of a domestic
argument to the eerie disappearance of an Amfac sugar worker in the middle of a
And it’s hard, but not impossible, to connect the
disappearance of a New York visitor to the murder of a troubled Hanapepe
Those are the high profile cases. The rest—a spate of sexual
assaults, continued reports of assaults in the public schools, domestic
violence, a visitor beaten and robbed in Hanalei—are serving to put this
community on edge.
With no apparent pattern to explain this sudden surge in
crime, there is a natural tendency for people to attempt to make sense of it
one way or the other.
One woman speculates that long-time residents are
beginning to feel pressured by the rising flow of visitors and influx of new
residents. They’re irritated by the traffic, the crowds and a sense that their
needs will not be addressed in the hustle for more tourist trade.
worried, she said, that their peaceful, laid-back lifestyle will disappear, and
they’re taking out their anxiety on anyone who crosses their path.
are blaming our law enforcement officers for failing to make arrests that can
lead to convictions.
I’m not blaming anyone or anything, though there is
reason to be concerned that growth of the tourist trade and its ability to
stress the already feeble infrastructure and swell the resident population
could threaten Kaua’i’s treasured lifestyle.
There is simply no reason to
believe that this run on violence is anything more than a series of random
events that by fate, alignment of the planets, or simply the idiosyncrasies of
human nature have occurred in a cluster over a relatively brief period of
That said, there is every reason to be concerned that something is
out of balance in the universe according to Kaua’i.
It would help if the
police department would get a break on one of these cases or if something
particularly uplifting came along to warm our collective hearts and distract us
from the tragedy of it all.
For the moment, it seems important to focus on
the comments of a reader who called last week to say that he enjoys reading The
Garden Island because the coverage is so positive. His complaint was with the
section that covers the world. Too negative, he said.
Usually, when someone
registers that sort of view, I say that it’s hard to report negative news on
this island because there’s so little of it. But this man was making his
observations after weeks of headlines describing miserable events.
mentioned that coverage to him. He simply brushed it off. A few isolated
incidents of violent crime on Kaua’i are nothing compared to other places he
has lived. This island is a special place, he said. We need to support its
positive aspects. And with that, he vowed to find ways to provide this
newspaper with more good news.
This man’s perspective helped bring balance
to at least one person whose view of this tiny island universe had blurred
under the weight of what seemed like a tragedy a week over a very long period
Kaua’i may have temporarily lost its equilibrium, and there is no
guarantee that the bad news spree in progress has run its course, but, on
balance, the sun still comes up every day and—if you keep the faith—life’s
still pretty good.