We are sovereigns of our own minds

I always cheer for the spies who are able to resist the temptation to spill their secrets. It’s not because I want to be a spy, but because I appreciate that no one can get into our heads if we don’t want them to. We are the absolute sovereigns of our own minds. That has good and bad consequences. The best is that we can think for ourselves. The worst is that sometimes, that thinking isn’t helpful and we become reluctant to change even when it is in our highest good to do so.

As the oldest of four and mother of three, there is always pride and dread when the new one first says, “You’re not the boss of me.” Even if offering the best suggestions, that little three- or four-year-old won’t budge. We resort to behavioral motivation (ie bribing them), and luckily they’re still liftable!

The Corner has received word that many of our older children and some adults are concerned about the president-elect taking office. I won’t elaborate details, but it relates to the environment, and a separatism of groups. This is where the positive aspect of personal sovereignty becomes applicable: Just because a large group is headed by someone who doesn’t think like you do, it doesn’t mean that you have to think like he or they do, if your choice is what is sincerely morally correct to you. To be morally correct means that you have researched it and aligned it with your code of “Do unto others, as I would have them do unto me” or whatever code of ethics you live by.

Ethics is the study of moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior. Ethics is a subject that used to be taught in high schools in the old days. We’d get essay tests on the ethics of doing something. Also, different cultures were studied, and we had a chance to learn of their religions or thought systems, as well as their governments and geography.

Lawyers are trained in ethical law. Our actions are motivated by how we think. If we have been raised to be thoughtful, open-minded and kind we will most likely treat others kindly and respectfully.

If we are taught that one group is better than another because of xyz reasons, or even because we haven’t been exposed to another group of people other than our own race as major caregivers, then we may be prejudged to favor our own kind over others. Prejudging a group is the same as having prejudice toward a group.

We are lucky that in Hawaii we are exposed to many races and cultures from a young age on. It’s common to see kids with several different shades of skin, hair or eyes, playing together at the beach. Children grow up knowing the person and not the race, or beliefs about the race.

So regarding peoples’ concerns about Trump’s morals in governance, if you stay morally true to your inner compass, you will be at peace with yourself. And though it might not be visible, you will have made a difference. People notice.

Regarding the environment and other issues, in the Dec. 26 issue of “Time Magazine” Michael Bloomberg titled his view article, “Where Washington fails to drive progress, cities will act.” While he goes on to state that most likely special interests will still be in control, and that it will take a while for Mr. Trump to build up trust that is needed on both parties’ sides, he also states that “power will shift away from Washington where partisan warfare kills off good ideas and honest debate, and toward the cities.”

“In cities across the U.S., problem-solving mayors in both parties are experimenting with innovative policies, often in partnership with businesses and citizens. And when innovative ideas work in cities, they often spread to states.” Examples are:

• New Orleans: Mitch Landrieu overhauls vocational education to connect low-income students with skills for future jobs in growing industries. It’s supported by the business community.

• Providence, R.I. Parents are learning how to expose their preschool children to more words, which could mean higher success later on.

• Seattle-Houston-Phoenix-Detroit are increasing their transit systems. (So is Honolulu!) A business in Texas is seeking permission to build a high-speed railway.

• Cities are cracking down on obesity by taxing sugary soft drinks, which actually is affecting consumption.

• Regarding climate change: While it is still a bi-partisan issue in Washington, Mayors of small and big towns have acted to clean the air, save money on energy, build modern infrastructure, protect themselves from extreme weather, and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Bloomberg states that no matter who runs the EPA “cities, businesses and citizens will continue to reduce emissions, and they will not let Washington stand in their way … Over the past decade Congress has not passed a single bill that takes direct aim at climate change. Yet at the same time, the U.S. has led the world in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions.”

Some American cities are following the examples of European countries and planting edible gardens for people to help grow and harvest to care for the city’s poor. In France, it is against the law for stores or restaurants to throw away food. It must be given away to people or farms.

Bloomberg believes that informed, educated citizens will be stepping up more to make a difference in the world we live in, just as the local governments and communities are making a difference in education with the “Every Student Succeeds Act.”

Students have been a big part of leading the way in creating devices to clean up our ocean, and finding ways to combat plastic pollution. Now it is being turned into building blocks for all kinds of things and there is a 3-D printer that can make objects using shredded plastic.

Don’t wait for Washington to create the world you want.

Find people who are doing, or thinking about doing what you want. Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Here are two websites that list community organizations for Kauai residents and for caring for our land: http://alohaisles.com/kauai/environmental.html, http://www.kauainetwork.org/directory/

If you are interested in being with people of all ages who are interested in getting along with others in a most caring way, come to the Interfaith Roundtable’s Celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 16 at the Lihue Neighborhood Center.

We’ll meet in the parking lot, and start with a parade. Dress to express what you want to say, and if you want, carry a poster stating how you think we should treat each other. After a snack, Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. and Sabra Kauka will speak on treating each other with aloha, then there will be a short video showing Dr. King in action, followed by Kauai High School sharing six quick ways to get out of conflict and a simple conflict resolution process. Kapaa Middle School Choir and Ukelele Band will add music to the program, the coloring poster winners will be announced, and lunch will be served, where you can sit with people of like minds. For more info, contact me at 652-7743.

Let’s make it a great year, and an even better Kauai. It’s actually fun to grow food, or help friends make peace.

•••

Hale `Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in our Kaua’i community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org For more information about Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, please go to www.haleopio.org

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