More aloha needed in the neighborhoods

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.

Trees gather

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.’




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