Six years later and the message remains the same

Editor’s note: The following was originally written on July 10, 2010.

Nearly six years have gone by since this was originally written.

For the moment, forget the political posturing of being a Democrat or Republican, here in the State of Hawaii, extolling what should be done or how the other guy’s commentary may be “politically incorrect.”

Both Senator Hooser and Lt. Governor Aiona submitted their viewpoints (TGI, August 25, 2009) to identify the challenges that are before us as we approach election year, 2010. To their astute statements, I wish to add the following:

Empower autonomous, community-based watershed councils to manage the finite resources of the aina. Hybrid approaches have surfaced with similar intents and purposes, but the state has not effectively harnessed the integrity of existing watershed councils (which was Congressionally mandated decades ago) to be implemented significantly and/or successfully (as it already has been in several other states).

This cannot and should not continue. It has been pointed out that the Century of the Hawaiians is now, the 21st century. We have reached the milestone of the first decade of this century, and we’re wasting time. The entire planet is focusing upon strategies of “going green.”

We have a “way of life” that needs to be extolled to all lands and all nations worldwide! We can no longer bicker about being less dependent on the importation of fossil fuel to empower ourselves to be self-sufficient, self-sustaining, and self-reliant. In “living aloha,” we must do so consciously and deliberately in remembering that “the land is chief, and we are but stewards of the land.”

Dismantle the overworked, overextended Department of Land and Natural Resources which has become too bureaucratically entrenched in its own morass of coping mechanisms, demands for attention and services, myriads of regulations, insufficiencies galore, and complicated duplications of procedural requirements and mandates. Unless and until the state can admit to the inefficiencies that continue to proliferate because of failed attempts to fix and/or modify the inept and antiquated modus operandi approaches and processes, this clunker will continue to hiss and belch as it attempts to function— miserably and with poor-performance ratings.

In defense of the understaffed workforce who are asked to accomplish the impossible or who have become conditioned to work within the scope of demands that exceed the ability to cope and satisfy, the time has come for major paradigm shifts to enable them from maintaining a “business as usual” status quo to becoming empowered as an entity capable of “identifying and meeting priorities as established, effectively.” I would suggest for some in-house soul-searching to take place; for some in-depth assessment of ways in which work performance and work conditions can be improved; and to establish effective and efficient performance level expectations.

Concentrate in evolving the educational system to include health reform programs and activities system that emphasize and promote “taking care of oneself, each other, and the environment” as a way of life. Academic achievement does not need to be forsaken in this system that encourages ways in which we can and must inter-relate with one another in limited shared spaces and in protecting shared finite resources. On the contrary, this nurturing approach can bring major beneficial dividends in the way we can perpetuate the principles of “living aloha” fully.

This consciousness and applications in “using what we need; sharing what we have; and being in tune with cyclical seasons with respect to what needs to be replenished and replaced in our environment” must be formatted to maintain a framework by which we perpetuate the righteousness of having the privilege of being stewards of Hawaii. It cannot be taken for granted that people will accept this as a “way of life” automatically. This concept must be taught. It must be promoted. It must be safeguarded. It must be, as it has been previously pointed out: “perpetuated.”

Encourage community awareness and participation in problem-solving scenarios to promote collaborative efforts among and between entities in the public and private sectors. Resources are available and systems have been devised to bring financial support and in-kind services together as a working-mechanism to actuate, implement, coordinate, and exemplify ways in which projects, programs, and activities are undertaken to support and enhance identified needs and demands.

Existing technological systems have made it possible for anyone to access relevant sources of assistance that can provide specific and time-sensitive information to enable all involved to become knowledgeable, prepared, and empowered to be solution-oriented as problems are identified and strategies are planned and implemented.

Our islands are the “canoes” in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and in the most isolated spot on Earth. As such, we need to relate to that reality as did the kanaka maoli who devised a system of living that was utterly self-sustaining, self-sufficient, and self-reliant…intended for all to support in perpetuity. By virtue of the recognition of that necessity in order to survive, as it was then, it is as true now in this 21st century. Our time has come. That time is now, for all of us to adopt and abide by.

•••

Jose Bulatao, Jr. is a Kekaha resident.

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