Family grieves for the selfish few in pandemic

Hawai‘i is different.

It’s evident to almost every person born, reared or transplanted to these islands — but not to every.

The measure of that difference can be elusive. I’ve spent the past 23 years pondering, writing and attempting (often futilely) to define those differences through the lens of my Native Hawaiian husband and his aboriginal culture.

Perhaps it has never been as easy as it has become in these days of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

“They think something is being taken from them, when in fact they’re taking away from my island and our people,” said cultural practitioner (and husband) ‘Iokepa Hanalei ‘Imaikalani.

He was shaking his head and looking at the image of 20 people marching their opposition to our mayor’s early and comprehensive pandemic restrictions on the front page of the Kaua‘i newspaper. With children in arms, the protesters marched their rage and purpose without county-mandated face masks. In an appalling bit of offensive hyperbole, one participant was quoted. “…Completely against our…rights. It feels like Nazi Germany.”

Here on Kaua‘i, we have a mayor in Derek Kawakami — a man who embodies and propagates his Native Hawaiian cultural roots and values. No human life is expendable — not a single soul is the equal of a bank account or a political future.

He spoke from those core collective native values when he insisted our elders are the repository of all that we value. That these most vulnerable are our sacred trust. On day one, he spoke of his responsibilities for preventing: ‘…our kupuna (elders) starting to fall ill, ending up in the hospital and passing away.’”

Mayor Kawakami answered the inevitable rule-violators. “For everybody who is making sacrifices in the name of the health and safety of our kupuna and those that are most vulnerable, there are still individuals who are willing to sacrifice all of that to push their own selfish needs in front of the needs of our community.”

‘Iokepa ‘Imaikalani echoed: “In Hawai‘i, we take care of one another, never just ourselves. Kaua‘i is the sacred mother island; it nurtures us. It is no coincidence that our mayor responds to that inheritance.”

Herein lies the why Hawai‘i is “different.” We owe every breath of that difference to our long-suffering, tourism-exploited Native Hawaiians — and their lip-service-admired-but-too-often-squandered ancient culture.

And so, my native husband — who is unable to even imagine a world that weighs personal need against collective good — grieves aloud any demand for singular “rights” over communal need. He stands in solidarity with his mayor. Both stand in quiet (and less than quiet) defense of the thousands of years of ancestral wisdom and the repository of collective goodness that their kupuna have left for all of us, here in Hawai‘i.

•••

Inette Miller ‘Imaikalani is a Kalaheo resident and wife of cultural practitioner ‘Iokepa Hanalei ‘Imaikalani.

17 Comments
  1. Levana Lomma April 26, 2020 2:34 am Reply

    Those who view standing up for constitutional rights as being selfish and negligent to the needs of our kupuna, I want you to think for a moment about all of the needless suffering to our elderly that has come about from these stringent government mandates. My mother, who is 71 years old, was admitted into the hospital for emergency surgery. Not only was she forced to wear a face mask in the presence of hospital staff which impedes her ability to breathe freely, while doing absolutely nothing to protect her or anyone else from viruses, she was also denied visitation by her own family. Instead she had to suffer through a frightening surgical procedure with no one to hold her hand. To say that anyone in opposition to house arrest without due process of law is merely being selfish and must not care if the kupuna die, is a statement that holds no merit. Far more of our elderly are suffering as a result of this LOCKDOWN than will ever be affected by a virus. The millions of lives that will be lost due to starvation, untreated disease, drug abuse and overdose, suicide and domestic violence over the coming months and years as a result of the complete breakdown of the world economy is far worse in comparison. You say we are only thinking of ourselves and this is simply not true. We are able to use critical thinking to assess the situation from a larger lens and can see the devastation unfolding as a result of the so called “solution”. We do this not out of selfish desire. We do this to protect life and liberty, to restore sanity to our community as we have been inundated with fear propaganda when in reality Covid-19 has been proven to be no more fatal than the flu. The data is in now and the truth can no longer be hidden.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading health authority in the U.S., wrote an article on February 28, 2020 where he stated “…the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%).” More recent serology studies done in Germany, the Netherlands and in California all confirm Dr. Fauci’s findings. These studies show that far more people have been exposed to and recovered from Covid-19 than was ever reported, which drives the mortality rate down. Thousands of patients across the country have been successfully treated with a proven safe and effective protocol which includes Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin and Zinc Sulfate. There is no more need for concern as we learn that Covid-19 is in fact easily treatable. Logic and common sense allows us to see that allowing the population to develop herd immunity while monitoring those with vulnerabilities is ultimately the best course of action as we can never eradicate the virus. The implementation of antibody testing will allow us to once again reopen the islands for tourism, but there is no reason why we should not open schools, businesses and public spaces immediately.

    Our demand to put an end to the lockdown is based on sound factual, scientific data and critical thinking. This information makes it clear that any extension of mandates is irresponsible and unnecessary. We must lift the orders and allow our economy to begin functioning again without restrictions.

    We should never accept that this notion of social distancing is our new normal, or that we may never be able to shake hands again. Are we really going to allow ourselves to be dehumanized? Have we forgotten that our immune system is an amazing function of our bodies that has been actively working to protect us from bacteria, viruses and other toxins since the day we were born? It is time to put an end to the fear and realize that life must go on with or without a virus.


    1. IsawYouWithaSign April 27, 2020 12:46 pm Reply

      Funny how you pick and choose your “scientific facts”.
      You quote Fauci’s paper written early on in the epidemic. If you check out the current mortality rates ( https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality) you can see that most countries are above 5%. Of course we can say there are more cases due to under testing, but that would still not be comparable to the flu. In fact a month later Fauci says that covid-19 is ten times more deadly than the flu.
      Also Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin are no magic bullets. There is limited data that they even have any effect on covid-19, the few studies that supposedly showed any effect were shown to be flawed and had limited sample sizes. Another study in brazil was stopped because of high rates of arrhythmia and death.
      And lastly there is no evidence that someone who has had covid-19 and gotten better has developed immunity. Not saying that they do not , but obviously it should be figured out before we tell everyone to go ahead and get sick.
      What data do you have that opening up the island will help the economy? We are a tourist driven economy and 40% of the US is out of a job. Doesn’t seem like a great time to take a vacation and spend money. If we end up having to do this all over again because of a few people with no common sense then it will just be worse for everyone.
      Maybe before using “scientific facts” you should get them straight


  2. Paulo April 26, 2020 8:59 am Reply

    Needed to be said. Enough of this me me me.


  3. JKS April 26, 2020 9:17 am Reply

    The economic collapse WILL cost lives. The writer does not seem to accept this simple fact.


  4. Michele Jacquin April 26, 2020 9:28 am Reply

    Thank you for a beautiful message.


  5. Uncleaina April 26, 2020 9:38 am Reply

    Well said! Our community has values and if you don’t share those values, you might live here, but you’re not part of the community. Just showing up at the airport doesn’t get you automatic admission into the Kauai Ohana. But luckily it’s just a small group that is so out of touch.


  6. Kauaidoug April 26, 2020 10:12 am Reply

    Lucky live Kaua’i doesn’t seem to do justice. Mahalo Inette


  7. Barry Kinman April 26, 2020 11:21 am Reply

    Wonderful message. The absence of letters in support though say as much as your letter. You have my aloha.


  8. Debra Kekaualua April 26, 2020 1:51 pm Reply

    Best letter EVER penned, mAhalo for your eloquent writing skill and the obvious attention that you Inette and Iokepa live by! We also know this and it is over due that recognition of truth, integrity and dignity be once again restored in its entirety, back to the peoples, “that know the rules”. Aloha


  9. WaimeaResident April 26, 2020 2:09 pm Reply

    Thousands of years of ancestral wisdom, huh?


    1. Makani B. Howard April 28, 2020 8:54 am Reply

      ahaha, good point! Thanks for catching that!


  10. Beth April 26, 2020 5:26 pm Reply

    I really enjoyed reading this. Even though we are not as loud as the protesters, we hope our mayor knows how much we value his leadership.


  11. mina April 26, 2020 10:30 pm Reply

    An outstanding article, Inette, that speaks directly to the dangers of the “me and mine” sect during a time when we must embrace the “us and ours” concept of survival. Not one penny is worth risking a human life or giving a contagion a place to take root and kill hundreds of people. The demonstrators haven’t yet seen their loved ones, their children, gasping for air on ventillators, starving for oxygen, and suffocating from viral induced pneumonia. You haven’t seen the chaotic, congested hospital corridors, nor the steady flow of body bags being piled up because the mortuaries and morgues can’t keep up with them. Your “rights” don’t include giving you the opportunity to expose an entire community to a deadly virus just so you can fleece a few more tourists. When you live in Hawaii, you are Hawaiian whether you like it or not. We may ultimately end up cut off from the rest of the world. If we don’t pull together and take care of each other, we will end up cut off from ourselves.


  12. Makani B. Howard April 27, 2020 9:02 am Reply

    The history of Hawaii shows that the royalty were rather selfish. It was all about them at the expense of those below them. Don’t use the cultural differences between people on the island as an excuse as to why people behave the way they do during the pandemic.

    Kawakami has done an excellent job keeping our island safe, though. I agree with all that he has done thus far. I hope he continues on his path of looking out for everyone here. He has a strong will and isn’t deterred by the gov’t on Oahu.


  13. HeyIseenYouWithASign April 27, 2020 12:45 pm Reply

    Funny how you pick and choose your “scientific facts”.
    You quote Fauci’s paper written early on in the epidemic. If you check out the current mortality rates ( https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality) you can see that most countries are above 5%. Of course we can say there are more cases due to under testing, but that would still not be comparable to the flu. In fact a month later Fauci says that covid-19 is ten times more deadly than the flu.
    Also Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin are no magic bullets. There is limited data that they even have any effect on covid-19, the few studies that supposedly showed any effect were shown to be flawed and had limited sample sizes. Another study in brazil was stopped because of high rates of arrhythmia and death.
    And lastly there is no evidence that someone who has had covid-19 and gotten better has developed immunity. Not saying that they do not , but obviously it should be figured out before we tell everyone to go ahead and get sick.
    What data do you have that opening up the island will help the economy? We are a tourist driven economy and 40% of the US is out of a job. Doesn’t seem like a great time to take a vacation and spend money. If we end up having to do this all over again because of a few people with no common sense then it will just be worse for everyone.
    Maybe before using “scientific facts” you should get them straight


  14. Barney Bryson April 27, 2020 5:40 pm Reply

    I fully agree with Inette Miller ‘Imaikalani and Mayor Kawahami and I support their position. The greater good for all must be first.
    Flat Lander from Illinois


    1. Barney Bryson April 28, 2020 2:34 pm Reply

      I retract that statement,


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.