When you have over 1 million visitors yearly coming to experience the natural
beauty and restfulness of Kaua’i, with this island’s count up over
tourist-ridden Maui, you would think any island person would consider at length
about cutting down a tree unnecessarily. That was not the case recently.
In a hair-splitting, pound o’ earth (as opposed to pound o’ flesh)
decision, with approximately seven inches on one side, nine inches on the
other, a neighbor cut down not one, but two coconut trees and a clump of
Hibiscus to gain $100 per tree. They would then be sold to a local nursery who
would then sell them to a local hotel for $1,500 to $1,800 per tree. Mobile
earth, as opposed to mobile homes?
Meanwhile, the neighbors have no more
shade, no more privacy in the back of their house, no shelter from the direct
stare of their neighbors, and no daily beauty to the eye which paces their days
in the early mornings and midnight moons through the trees.
birds and sunlight: Chickens, doves, cardinals and pigeons, among other
creatures. The trees had grown and stored energy for over 30 years. The cutting
took all of an hour or two, hauled away as if they’d never been there. How
efficient. And what blatant sacrilege to the earth and to all the neighborhood
beings. The tree has no voice other than its emitting beauty through which we
all breathe. The cutting-lady said she “owned” the tree. We all know that no
one owns the earth.
In an instinctive, instantaneous and rather ingenious
act-out response, my friend wrote “Tree Thief” in large letters on a sheet and
hung it on the laundry line. The tree-cutting neighbor called the police. The
policeman said patronizingly to my bereaved neighbor, whose first-born is named
Mahoghany, “`Who is the bigger person?”‘ as if to say, OK, little girl, your
toy shouldn’t have been stolen, but it was, and there is no getting it back, so
get over it. The cop was just pulling up a pat phrase to calm an irate seasoned
woman, and we all know that an angry woman of justice and goodness is to be
Can we neighbors live in peace here? This is one of the quieter
streets in Wailua. Last year, one neighbor let the air out of my tire, because
I’d parked for one hour in front of the gate-part of his metal continuous fence
(which he almost never uses) so I could mow my lawn. Another neighbor, a
devoted Christian, took the opportunity to vent grievances and pump his chest
at the tire-deflating man, accusing him of child-abuse, among other things.
Like two cocks, their chests were pumping, their feet sliding and scratching,
and they were ready to war. I told the man to fill my tires, that I wouldn’t
park there again, and told the Christian that this was the real time he needed
to practice his values.
If there is not aloha in the neighborhoods,
emanating from the earth, then where can it be on this Island? Why couldn’t the
treecutter approach kindly and discuss the possibility of cutting the trees and
ramifications, or why couldn’t the tire-deflating man ask around about whose
truck it was? I’ve lived across the street for three years.
Of course, we
all make mistakes and are humbled by it. There was no humility here. No
feeling. No humbled-by-resolution, no connection. Many values in living are
common sense and cannot be legislated – unless, of course you want to spend
your precious life in a courtroom.
It makes sense to be good to your
neighbors who can ease your life, keep troubles to a minimum. A tree and the
life around it cannot be measured in dollars, nor can the clear atmosphere
which trees create. Has it really come to the time when people need to hear
trees are healthy for you. On a small scale, it is only two trees; on a large
scale, it is global warming, the massacre of the earth, mutilation of women’s
feelings, impoverishment of the soul – and the great sense among Hawaiians that
all is not ‘pono.’