The Clarity of History

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Yesterday, we had a training up at Kamehameha that at one point discussed the concept of Aloha ‘Åina, and used Kaho’olawe as an example. While there are some with varying opinions on the bombing of Kaho’olawe, most people today would agree, I think, that stopping the bombing was the right thing to do. And often, such matters are clear in hindsight – the Kamehameha trustee scandal comes to mind, the consensus about the result of which is rather stunning.


Forty years after the Kaho’olawe landings, even a fairly mainstream organization like OHA can see who was in the right

But there are issues going on today, about which there is a lot of debate – Mauna Kea is the most obvious example. In my view, a historical analysis of these contemporary issues can provide a lot of clarity as to how we should act in the present. Some of these issues (maybe not Mauna Kea, but certainly Makua Valley), become quite clear with just a little historical reflection.

While George Santayana’s quote about repeating history is a cliche at this point, the message doesn’t seem to have been received by most. But as Maya Angelou has put it:

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.

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