Sometimes as I mull the latest news about serious issues that we are facing on Kauai, I wonder, “Are we all living in a fairy tale on this island?” Our home is often paired with qualifying words such as magical, magnetic, pristine, energizing, challenging, expensive and unfriendly, hot (as in too hot), unaffordable, and phrases such as unbelievably beautiful, incredibly lovely, full of the aloha spirit, a healing place, a place that will challenge you beyond any expectation, a local brain drain, ferry-haters and “druggies,” a wilderness of yet-unsolved murders and disappearances, snarled traffic, monk seal attackers, an environment of endangered species, limited water resources, GMO woes and dying coral reefs.
I’m sure that’s just a sampling. The good and the bad. The positive, the negative. Like life.
“Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you …” is a line from a song and also something we were led to believe as children. Many experts far more qualified than myself have examined the old fairy tales and concluded that they were used to help teach children what they needed to know about life as they readied for adulthood if they were to achieve balance. Before things were Disney-fied and always tailored to have a happy ending, the teaching was that there’s always a light side balanced with a dark side. Endings can be happy, and they can be downright sad, if not complete and irretrievably heart-wrenching disasters.
Remember the youth on a quest? The maiden alone in the forest? The king, the queen, the magician, the old hag and the beggar, the gnome who exacts a promise? The tower, the dark cave, and all the monsters and various obstacles along the way? The poisoned apple? The murders, the bodies behind locked doors? The guardian dogs, eyes big as dinner plates? The keys tinged with blood, the secret, magical word? The snake swallowing its tail — the everlastingness? We all remember these.
We probably all remember, too, that there’s always a goal in mind. It’s often masked, or hidden. It’s often unknown, as yet unconscious, as when we’re children. But eventually it surfaces. Then it’s up to the hero (us?) to meet the challenge. This will take great effort. It will require courage, steadfastness, integrity and a willingness to stay the course. It will require a selfless love and strong spiritual grounding, and will test for character.
Actually this reminds me of the decision-making unit my husband used to teach in his biology classes to help high school students clarify their choices based on their system of ideals. It would come down to the question, “What ought I to do?” An important part of the learning process was that if a young (or any) person’s individual values are in direct conflict, an obstacle course of serious problems due to conflicting choices will surely develop.
“Ought” it is an interesting word. Unlike “should,” “would” or “could,” “ought” is close to the Hawaiian word “pono,” in that it expresses duty or rightness, advisability or prudence and, in the case of what makes a hero, strong probability. In this case, the individual will follow the dictates of their best self and avoid the pitfalls waiting between intention and outcome like wild boar traps.
However, a person’s weaknesses and entrapments may translate to influence the decisions they make, causing them to ignore what is true, or evade it, putting on blinders.
Let’s go further with this and apply it to our community leaders in their decision-making processes. I fervently hope that the majority of them will represent the trust we, the people, place in them now, at Kauai’s present point of change, to aim for win-win solutions in the long run, and that the magic of the Garden Island — all factors, big and small, that contribute toward it and the best interests of our people in the next generations — are their underlying goals.
My green flash is edging toward warning red because I’m edgy about the latest published outcome regarding a local study of GMO crops and chemical usage on crop fields, which is in direct conflict with what is being avoided for the good of the people in much of the modern world. My ire has increased after receiving in the mail a disk of the Environmental Impact Statement about, by, and for the dairy proposed for Mahaulepu. Have we all forgotten that milk-and-cookies “dog and pony show” hosted by the Ulapono Initiative that took place in Koloa School last year?
Please — I’m calling on a hero, if not heroes, to answer this second threatening challenge to our environment and the health of our people and clear the obstacles out of the way. Whom, may I ask, are the nameless people obscured by the term “Kauai County” who approved and issued the original dairy permit? And exactly why, since the benefits to our island are sorely outweighed by the threats. Let’s have some accountability, if not fresh Kauai milk, butter and cheese. Surely the individuals who comprise a governing board or commission can rescind a permit. For good reason.
I pray this fairy tale ends well for the good of all concerned, that our heroes’ honor will cancel skewed promises, hazy vision, or greed. For us, the people of this island, and those who will follow, let it be that no one of us knowingly contributes to the loss of a single species, from coral polyp to fern spore and beyond.
Next time, some true vignettes of pure magic and serendipity from Kauai nei. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of this newspaper if you have a tale to share via “The Green Flash.”
Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, regularly instructs visitors to Kauai through Hawaii Pacific University’s “Road Scholar” program through Pacific Islands Institute. Her second memoir, based on the Burma of pre- and post-World War II times, will be published this year. Under DAWN Enterprises, she continues as owner/operator of TropicBird Press and TropicBird Weddings & Celebrations-Kauai.