Viewpoint on Saturday — October 01, 2005

• Remove those planted signs

Remove those planted signs

By Inette Miller ‘Imaikalani

I was in high school when the President’s wife raised the nation’s consciousness. It was Lady Bird Johnson; it was labeled Highway Beautification; it was the 1960s. She cleared our nation’s highways of ugly billboards and signs.

It’s a lesson that needs to be relearned on Kaua’i. Both major roadway approaches leading from the airport have been beautified. At enormous expense, and volunteer labor — these approaches have been landscaped.

Now, however, planted among the trees and flowers — every hundred feet or so — are ugly green signs. These — at odds with what has always been native Hawaiian, contrary to the native word, Kawaihau (to give with expectation of return) — are public advertisements of private good deeds. These are signs boasting of the organizations or individuals who have agreed to tend a tiny landscaped path of ‘aina.

First of all, they are ugly — these planted signs that advertise any number of commercial and governmental efforts at a public responsibility that we all share. It is second of all, horribly contrary to the generosity and hospitality our native Hawaiian hosts have showered on all of us malihini (guests) who’ve arrived and thrived on their shores. Finally, it is the opposite of any concept of community or human giving — here or elsewhere in the world. We are taught to give — without either announcing or advertising our gift, or expecting a return from it.

I challenge those whose hearts are indeed in the right place, to quietly and modestly remove the specific sign that shouts their contribution to the public good. A gift is given as a gift. An advertisement of that giving with hope of receiving something in return be it commerce or recognition – is no longer a gift.

  • Inette Miller ‘Imaikalani is an author and resident of Lihu’e

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