Category Archives: ʻĀina

Response to Kaʻiulani Milham’s “A Game Changer for Kanaka Maoli”

Kaʻiulani Milham, a writer and participant in the Naʻi Aupuni constitutional convention, published a thoughtful editorial in Civil Beat about a topic very relevant to the readers of this blog, so I thought Iʻd give my line-by-line two cents. She often hits the mark, but sometimes, in my view, misses it.

With the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, Kānaka Maoli face a vastly altered landscape in our pathway to self-determination and the question of whether or not to accept the Department of Interior’s final rule, for federal recognition.

Probably the main point that Milham misses for Fed-Rec, which is that itʻs dead. It was to be done by executive order, so even if Obama signs on Jan. 19th, Trump will unsign on the 20th.

The country we contemplated a nation-to-nation relationship with, is not the same nation we imagined last week.

But it is.The ill-will toward Hawaiians was always visible in Congress, which refused to consider the Akaka Bill for a dozen years (1999-2012). Anti-affirmative action sentiment (73%) was always going to be against us (if the Akaka Bill and Fed-Rec were something you wanted).

The aloha we uphold — kindness, welcoming and inclusion — are the polar opposite of Trump’s xenophobic essence and the underlying national spirit of exclusion his election revealed.

Yes and no. America is an incredibly divided country – thatʻs been clear for a while now.

His race-driven hatred for people of color, from Muslims to Mexicans, will be felt by Kānaka Maoli, too. Guaranteed.

I basically said this in my post “Hawaiians in Trump’s America.”

What’s worse is that the hatred he represents reflects the values of his share of U.S. voters who voted in this election.

Those who think as Trump does — as well as those willing to look the other way when he repeatedly showed himself to be a rampant racist and misogynist — have been empowered by his fascist rhetoric. They won’t be backing down from their bully pulpit any time soon.

The economic, health and social conditions of Hawaiians will not improve under a Trump presidency.

Probably true.

Nor can we afford to delude ourselves that federal recognition will protect our cultural and natural resources.

When I was on John Kane’s radio show, Letʻs Talk Native (WBAI, New York City), I read the litany of Hawaiian socio-economic ills, and he said “We have all those things with Federal Recognition!” Heʻs one Native American who gets it.

The shocking images from the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, flooding our social media pages for weeks now, has shown just how far America’s corporatocracy will go to rape the natural resources, culture and sacred places of native people.

If Barack Obama has not had the moral courage to stop the atrocities being committed there in the name of Big Oil and Energy Transfer Partner’s Dakota Access Pipeline, we would be insane to believe Trump will do better.

And you were about to celebrate “Thanksgiving,” created to thank Native Americans who helped pilgrims survive their first winter, while Standing Rock was going on? Thereʻs another holiday on Monday, Nov. 28 – Lā Kuʻokoʻa, Hawaiian Independence Day – no guilt required in its celebration.

But the “status quo” also looms like a bogey man — with impossibly high-priced housing, a failing state education system, high incarceration rates and low graduation rates and countless other chronic social and health issues for Hawaiians.

Under the specter of Rice v. Cayetano and other anti-Hawaiian U.S. Supreme Court rulings, federal recognition advocates fret over the anticipated loss of federal funds Hawaiians have become dependent on to revive our still threatened ʻŌlelo Hawaii and other foundational pillars of our culture.

See above comments on affirmative action.

Fear of losing these programs and funds drove our trustees at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to invest an estimated $43 million, on various attempts at federal recognition, that we now see has been spent for naught.

Gambling on a tag-team effort by back-to-back Obama and Hillary Clinton administrations to carry their federal recognition dream into reality, our trustees have been caught with their pants down.

How foolish to think tying our futures to the vagary of American politics was the safest course.

Yet Milham participated in Naʻi Aupuni. Is this an admission?

We are not safe.

Not on any level.

More importantly, as Haunani K. Trask famously declared on the 100th anniversary observance of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1993, “We are not Americans!”

In a larger, pragmatic sense, none of us here are “Americans.”

Possibly true, but it misses the point that some really arenʻt Americans – oneʻs citizenship is not a matter of opinion. Some Hawaiians have no American ancestry and thus retain only Hawaiian citizenship.

Now, because of this election, and what it portends for American politics in the foreseeable future, we all must honestly consider how maintaining ties to America impacts all of us in Hawaii.

These islands are 2,471 miles away from the nearest American soil, a world a way culturally from Washington, D.C.

With a climate change denier entering the Oval Office, and scientists concluding that climate change-induced sea level rise will hit Hawaii harder than anywhere on Earth, we have to ask ourselves:

When did the deciders in Washington, D.C. ever prioritize the well being of Pacific Islanders?

I asked myself a similar question when I was looking for graduate programs – in university departments itʻs as if the Pacific does not exist.

Not in post WWII Hawaii when America used Kahoʻolawe for a half-century-long bombing campaign that broke the island’s water table and left it uninhabitable, littered with unexploded ordinance that largely remain below the surface after $400 million spent on clean up.

And only got 70% of the surface and 10% of the subsurface.

Not in 1946 when America began its 56-year bombing run on Bikini Atoll, or when it dropped a hydrogen bomb there in 1954, leaving the Marshall Islands toxic to this day.

Not for the last 45 years as America invited half the world’s armed forces to use Hawaiian waters for RIMPAC’s biennial exercises with their devastation of our marine resources.

Not in 1997 when America rejected the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, turning its back on sea-level rise impacts to Pacific peoples.

Not when Tuvalu began its evacuations, as sea-level rise inundated their islands, or when Kiribati bought land in Fiji in preparation for evacuations to come.

Not in 2014 when Obama announced the Pacific Pivot, further militarizing the Pacific and putting Pacific peoples firmly in the scatter-gun pattern of collateral damage from America’s future wars.

Not today when America’s reluctant signature to the Paris Climate Accord is threatened with abrogation by Trump.

If America puts this little value on protecting the Pacific, our Hawaiians Islands and Pacific Islanders in general, how can any of us here in Hawaii feel safe?

Does Trump think of Hawaii when he says he’s going to “Make America Great Again?”

More likely he’ll put Hawaii in the crosshairs of America’s enemies.

The reality for Hawaii is, this unbalanced, undisciplined, inexperienced American president will have unprecedented potential to fatally bungle foreign relations with North Korea, China or some other American enemy.

Hawaii, being the nearest target, will be attacked just like it was on Dec. 7, 1941.

Hawaiians, unquestionably, have suffered most from the imposition of American rule over our islands, but we’re NOT the only ones who will suffer if it continues.

Brown or white, we in Hawaii are all Pacific islanders.

Not exactly. Some people here think weʻre an annex of Southern California.

Whether Hawaii will survive for our future generations will depend on our resolve to form a unified independent Hawaiian government.

We can confront the challenges of restoring Hawaiian Independence together, wait to see what American politics will bring, or slowly sink beneath the waves of sea-level rise, climate change induced mass extinctions and the myriad other environmental threats that stand before us.

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The State of Hawaiʻi – Part 3: The State of Development

This is part three of a series of articles I’ve been drafting for my students in Hawai’i Politics and other courses. Part one deals with rail and other issues and part two with race and the Democratic machine. This third installment looks at the psychology of development.

Plans for a military research center at the University of Hawaiʻi underscore the reality highlighted by the approval of the Koa Ridge and Hoʻopili zoning changes: that Hawaiʻi is really a state of development. The driving force in Hawaiʻi is the consensus between developers and unions epitomized by Pacific Resource Partnership, the SuperPAC that crushed any effective opposition to establishment candidates in 2012. That the military lab will be named for the late Senator Daniel Inouye shows the status with which he presided over this consensus and his position as the “King of Hawaiʻi,” as the Wall Street Journal called him.

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Carleton Ching

With the nomination of Carleton Ching for head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), which manages the “ceded lands” (the Kingdom Crown and Government lands), this “state of development” is coming into focus. Ching spent years trying to weaken environmental protections as a part-time lobbyist for Castle and Cooke. All the outrage against Ching’s nomination (even the Star-Advertiser came out against it) is gratifying, but may overlook the fact that it’s business as usual. Ching may actually only stand out because of the contrast with his predecessor Bill Aila. He is nevertheless an extremely pro-development choice. According to Ehu Kekahu Cardwell:

As President of the Land Use Research Foundation, a pro-development lobby group, Carleton Ching advocated

– To weaken protections for public access to beaches.

– To weaken protections for traditional and customary practices.

– To remove permit requirements that protect shorelines from development.

– Against laws to address climate change.

– For the Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC)

Carleton Ching Confirmation Hearings

WHEN – Wednesday, March 11th 10AM

WHERE – Hawai`i Capitol – Room 229

Canʻt Attend? – Submit Your Opposition Testimony Today!

Submit Your Opposition Online Testimony Here –http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx

Or By Email Here – WTLTestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov

All written testimony should indicate whether you will be testifying in person

Between Koa Ridge, Hoʻopili, the plans to sell pineapple lands in Wahiawa and Envision Laie, we are heading toward having no open space on Oʻahu along any of the major highways. Add Ching to the mix and even the mauka protected forest areas arenʻt safe. One can imagine that wealthy people would like mountain retreats along the lines of Tantalus or Palehua in the Waianae mountains (see the cover of Israel’s Kamakawiwoʻole’s Facing Future – thatʻs Jon DeMelloʻs Palehua house at 3000 feet, six miles above Makakilo).

Israel Kamakawiwoʻole at Palehua, Waianae Mts.

Israel Kamakawiwoʻole at Palehua, Waianae Mts.

Koa Ridge

How much more urban can Oʻahu get? You might think of Hong Kong or Japan, but even they have large protected forest areas. With Chingʻs nomination  thereʻs the potential to erode at that. Within the economic logic of developers, it’s a no-brainer to go on building high-yield developments until land runs out. We need to question this “logic” and show that its really a kind of psychosis.

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The New Frugality

A recent article in The Atlantic, “The Cheapest Generation,” argues that millenials no longer want cars or houses. Working and middle-class people are beginning to realize what many rich people have known for a while: it is better to pay for access than ownership, especially when it comes to things that are not necessarily assets, but may be liabilities, such as cars.

There seems to be a minimalist movement afoot. Weʻve got the tiny house movement,* which shows people that more space means more electricity, more water, and that we donʻt necessarily need most of the stuff we own.

Tiny house in Denver, CO.

Weʻve got millenials living in cities (and consequently abandoning small towns), using public transport (think Portlandia), and sharing housing and just about everything else (Uber “taxis” are just one example). I see three reasons for this; first, they canʻt afford anything else (the average millennial 18-34 years old in Hawaiʻi made $34,000 last year, barely enough for rent), second, public transport and urban revitalization have reversed white flight to the suburbs, and third, the American dream is looking more and more unbelievable, that is to say, they donʻt believe in it. The resulting “sharing economy” is one of the only viable alternatives to straightforward capitalism to emerge since the failure of the communist experiment 25 years ago.

Tiny houses are often 150 to 200 square feet, on wheels because they donʻt meet building codes, and use composting toilets.

This bodes well for the environment, as people greatly reduce their ecological footprints. If you think this is insignificant compared with population growth, think again: the average American uses 20 times the resources of the average Indian, but has about a third as much population. This means the US has six times the ecological impact of India, despite its smaller population. Footprint matters. And the sharing economy is not backward-looking like the back-to-the-land movement, in fact (and this should be obvious) it relies on technology, mobile apps and the like. There is no longer a need for bulky file cabinets, CD, book, or even art collections (mine is on pinterest).

There is much more that can be done on the transportation front. The transportation minister of Copenhagen was on public radio a few days ago, and discussed a proposed new transportation system for the city based on access to multiple modes of transport. It may be an app in which you enter your destination and it gives you five possible routes using various modes (including bikeshares), and gives you the price. Some days you may want to ride public transit; other days you may need a van. One statistic stood out for me: a car represents $20,000-$30,000 of investment (more when you include interest), and sits idle in a parking space 97% of the time. He called that investment “Lazy money.” Through carsharing, the overhead costs of the car are spread among many users, and less parking is needed because the cars are much more often moving (and there would be fewer of them).

This method of using the pocketbook to argue against ownership of cars (which cost, on average, over $5000 per year to operate), is quite effective in my view: show people clearly how they are wasting their hard-earned money, and how it might be better spent elsewhere (perhaps on that college degree that more than two-thirds of Americans still donʻt have – but thatʻs another story entirely). This makes them ask themselves (it made me ask myself) “is what I need really to own a car, or to get places?”

If I bike to work, I wonʻt have to spend three hours in the gym every week, and Iʻll save $10 a day, or over $200 per month. On really bad traffic days in West Oʻahu it can take two hours to drive 10 miles (5 miles per hour) – I can go 15 – 20 miles per hour on a bike, some can go faster than that). I ran to work for six years in three different cities (Boston, San Francisco and Honolulu), so there are no mental barriers there for me, just logistics (do I ride with my laptop? what about dropping off kids? – to name only  two obstacles), but these arenʻt insurmountable.

It is this kind of win-win situation that, if supported by infrastructure, makes for viable revolution in the way we live and impact the planet. Thrift was an American value more than a century ago, but it was subverted by the consumer economy. In Hawaiʻi, urban revitalization seems underway for better or worse. Perhaps a silver lining in the hyper-capitalism we find ourselves in is that this reliance on overconsumption will undercut itself, and allow people to reinvest their assets into things that matter: education, health and the next generation.

* Tiny houses have been proposed as a solution for houselessness in Hawaiʻi, and  are beginning to be used in other cities: see Civil Beat, “The Little Solution to the Big Housing Crisis.”

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Imagination

IN his web chat on The Guardian website, Slavoj Zizek noted that “we were all Fukuyamaists,” meaning that everyone, even the left, believed in a sense that we were at Fukuyama’s “end of history.” The meaning of this end of history was widely debated, but it argued that with liberal democracy, no further progress was required or possible.

Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History and the Last Man

Fukuyama actually meant this in a Hegelian sense – that the thesis of monarchical authoritarianism and its liberal communitarian antithesis had been resolved with the synthesis of moderate liberal capitalist democracy. [Hegel’s most influential idea was that an idea, or thesis, confronts its opposite, or antithesis, and the two resolve at a higher level in a synthesis.]  Zizek’s point was that even the left had failed to imagine possibilities other than the same liberal democracy and that debate came to be about what kinds of reforms – essentially tweaks – could be made to make the system more just.

Prof. Slavoj Zizek is international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities at the University of London and senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

We continue to find ourselves in this rut, caused by an inability to imagine alternatives to the system we find ourselves in. This is particularly perilous for Hawaiians, who are in various ways trying to imagine an alternative society, but are trapped in the paradigms imposed on us over the past century.

When trying to imagine alternative social arrangements, it may be helpful to think about what kinds of assumptions can be made of people in any given system. In capitalism, for example, we assume that most people do not steal (most stores do not have security guards, but often a 100 pound teenage girl as the only one “guarding” the store – this is only seen as dangerous in “dangerous” neighborhoods, not in “normal” ones), but in fact believe in the system to the extent that people will go out of their way to show that they have the money to buy even overpriced goods (to which prestige may be attached). Those who do steal are shunned, perhaps shown on reality or crime shows as examples of social misfits. They are, in the terminology of [transpersonal] psychology, pre-conventional; they do not adhere to the expectations of the society, but to one “below” it. The ability to assume people do not steal is quite an accomplishment, because it is an assumption that people do not always do what is in their blatant self-interest – or perhaps that their self-interest can be much more complex.

NOW imagine a society in which one could assume that people are pro-social, and that they do not behave in ways that damage the natural world – this society is already beginning to emerge and its norms are being constantly enforced (see the film version of The Grinch). These people are “post-conventional,” but this view is quickly becoming “conventional” – Noam Chomsky noted recently that in his youth, women’s rights and the environmental movement did not exist. Now imagine further a society in which it can be assumed that history, law and intellectual and artistic pursuits are actually important and should be encouraged, even if they don’t have “market value” – or where they’re given market value (or where there is no market). This exercise may be viewed as utopian, but that is exactly the point, as Robert Kennedy said, “to imagine a world which has not been and say ʻwhy not?'”

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Locke and Property

This post, along with the one on Rousseau, Plato and many to follow, are part of an upcoming project – stay tuned.

The United States incorporated a Lockean notion of relation of individual to state, a notion that was “dominant at the time when the [US] Constitution was adopted.” In common parlance, the term property is used as a noun. One is said to own “property,” i.e., a piece of property, an object. Locke’s time used property as a right, as in “I have a property in that land.” This shift occurred sometime in the seventeenth century [see Appleby] in Europe, and was present at the founding of the US, but in Hawaiʻi, it was more visible, occurring in the time period in question, the 1840s and 1850s. So in addressing the question of the transition from property as a right to property as an object, some of the associated trauma can be attributed to the fact that the shift was both later and more rapid in Hawaiʻi than in Europe.

John Locke

Locke expounded his notion of property in his Two Treatises of Government, Second Treatise (1690):

… every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body had any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that Nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property. It being by him removed from the common state Nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other Men. For this Labour being the unquestionable Property of the Labourer, no Man but he can have a right to what that is once joyned to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others.

Sec. 43. . . . . ‘Tis Labour then which puts the greatest part of Value upon Land, without which it would scarcely be worth any thing . . . . For ’tis not barely the Plough-man’s Pains, the Reaper’s and Thresher’s Toil, and the Bakers [sic.] Sweat, is to be counted into the Bread we eat …

Sec. 45. Thus Labour, in the Beginning, gave a Right of Property, where-ever any one was pleased to imploy it, upon what was common, which remained, a long while, the far greater part, and is yet more than Mankind makes use of.

The application of Lockean ideals in Hawaiʻi was premised on a particular psychology subcribed to by missionaries:

In some ways the missionaries … were equipped with a full-fledged theory of the human mind and society … Their psychology started with the empiricist idea od the mind as filled with custom, hence subject to outside influence and change. The follies and whims of the human mind, perpetuated by custom, as Locke and the enlightenment thinkers would say, are a result of insufficient use of the reason due to social circumstances (Mykkänen, 2003, 80).

Responding to Hobbes’ more radical notion that “everyman” has a right to everything, Locke held that it was a “ridiculous trifling to call that power a Right, which should we attempt to exercise, all other Men have an equal Right to obstruct or prevent us” (Tully, 1980, 74). This separation of rights represented a building of consensus over rights in property that the state was being encouraged to protect.

The foundation of the debate rested on the notion of natural rights, on the existence of which there was considerable agreement. The debate centered, instead, on the manifestation of natural rights in the actual world of property ownership. The interpretation of these rights rested, in turn, on the idea of the social contract. Pufendorf held, in response to Hobbes, that “rights of property have no higher sanction than the laws which men consent to in entering political society” (Tully, 1980, 75).

            Ivison, Patton and Sanders summarize the larger picture of interaction between “Western” political thought and Indigenous societies, values and systems of property:

Western political thought has often embodied a series of culturally specific assumptions and judgments about the relative worth of other cultures, ways of life, value systems, social and political institutions, and ways of organizing property. As a result, egalitarian political theory has often ended up justifying inegalitarian institutions and practices” (Ivison, Patton and Sanders, 2).

They contend that “finding appropriate political expression for a just relationship with colonised indigenous peoples is one of the most important issues confronting political theory today” (Ivison, Patton and Sanders, 2).

Defining “rights” as that “securing or protecting fundamental human interests, for example, those to do with property or bodily integrity,” they note that recognition of Indigenous rights will entail a fundamental alteration of those rights. Further, the note the failure of western political theory to enter into dialog with Indigenous peoples over the issue of rights in general, and, I would add, property rights in particular.

Ivison, Patton and Sanders also address the issue of indigenous title, and hold that it is “more about the continual definition and redefinition of relationships rather than the simple vindication of a property right.” This notion suggests the primacy of communal title and further its contrast with individual title. In fact, New Zealand’s Maori Land Court had as its primary task the “individualisation” of Maori title – a practice viewed as facilitating alienation of Maori lands.

Tully (99) notes that, for Locke, “it is never the case that … property is independent of a social function.” He distinguishes between property as a natural right and “political property,” which succeeds it and is only then private property. Locke opposes Filmer, Grotius and Pufendorf on this point. He holds that the natural property rights in the state of nature precede “the systems of property that arise later with the introduction of money and the creation of government.”

This, of course, is subject to critique, as the notion of a state of nature prior to government was what facilitated the doctrine of terra nullius. Thus the notion of a state of nature itself is contingent on one’s ability to see a government – which settlers in Australia claimed not to be able to do. Locke had a similar blind spot when it came to the “new world.” Locke worked as an aide to the Lord Proprietor for the Carolina colonies. His work justified slavery in the Carolinas and he was a shareholder in the Royal African Company, which was involved in the African slave trade. Locke clearly believed in property, but his belief in liberty was more constrained. Farr (2008), however, holds that Locke forwarded a just-war model justifying slavery, but one that did not apply in the Americas, but only in Stuart England.

Between Locke’s Eurocentric notions of property and government and inconsistent position on slavery, the implementation of a Lockean private property regime in Hawai’i was indeed problematic.

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The Psychology of Mālama ʻĀina

He ali’i ka ‘āina, he kauwā ke kanaka.

The land is a chief, people are its servants.

My students and former students know (or should know) that mālama ʻāina is more than merely “care for the land.” It is that, but ʻāina, for one thing, is not “land,” but arable land. I was corrected by Walter Ritte at the ʻĀina Forum – he said ʻāina is not land. I’d say ʻāina is not real estate. It is not the sand of the beaches – we distinguish ʻone hānau (the sands of one’s birth) from ʻāina hānau (the land of one’s birth). To some, it is specifically the deep, fertile lands of the loʻi kalo.

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Walter Ritte and myself at the ʻĀina Forum. click here for video

 

How do chiefs practice mālama ʻāina when they don’t usually work the land personally? (There are exceptions, mainly among the lower-ranking chiefs). Mālama ʻāina for chiefs is the maintenance of the reciprocal relationship with the makaʻāinana (those ma  ka ʻāina – on the land). Chiefs care for the makaʻāinana, providing administration that ensures enough food for all under their rule, while makaʻāinana provide labor. Those chiefs who did not fulfill this kuleana – maintaining pono – were summarily killed or exiled.

The standard ethic today in social relations is also one of reciprocity. We provide taxes and expect government services in return. But part of the difficulty of the ethic of mālama ʻāina today, is that we are asked to think about those with whom there is no direct reciprocal relationship: the unborn. This requires a different kind of consciousness, one in which maximizing one’s own self-interest (the capitalist assumption) is replaced by thought of others – those who may want to share a resource, or are not alive yet to ask. This requires a degree of trust that those others will also not exploit the resource. And yet solutions are being found to this “tragedy of the commons” – the situation in which commonly-held, unowned resources are bound to be exploited. And these solutions so not require trust, but cooperative action. Elinor Ostrom shows in Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (1990) that, contrary to popular sentiment, commons are governable. Indeed, the Hawaiian kapu system did precisely this.

The West has only recently woken up to this kind of thinking. The environmental movement is usually dated to Rachael Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, in which we are asked to imagine a spring without the sounds of birds and bees. Today bee colonies are widely known to be collapsing, and 75% of Hawaiʻi’s bird species are either extinct or endangered.

The environmental crisis is coming to be recognized not as a problem of resources or their distribution, but of consciousness. In Leonardo DiCaprio’s film The 11th Hour, one of the commentators says “inside, outside,” – what we think on the inside projects out and creates the world we experience. If our minds are toxic, so is our world.

Deborah Winter and Susan Koger’s The Psychology of Environmental Problems (2004) looks at these issues from the various fields within psychology; Freudian, Social, Behavioral, Physiological, Cognitive and Holistic psychologies. They find problems from each of these perspectives. People “use denial to reduce fear and anxiety, perhaps even more so as the risks are closer.” The local effects of environmental issues are “not readily noticeable, so rewards and costs are not directly experienced.” Our nervous systems “are not wired to pick up small effects [even on our own health] over a long period of time, [and] the long delay between exposure and health outcomes reduces our ability to notice the physiological impacts at a local level.” Finally, we miscalculate the risks of death from rare and common causes, making us “less likely to pay attention to local [environmental] risks that are at play everyday” (Winter and Koger, 230). But most importantly they also point out very obvious fact that few want to acknowledge, that “Western civilization is unsustainable” Winter and Koger, xiv):

Living in Europe, Deborah immensely enjoyed many pinnacles of human civilization: the music, the art, the ballet, the cathedrals, the cuisine, and the ambiance of urban sophistication. But as glorious and magnificent as human civilization is, Western civilization is not sustainable. In Germany and northern Europe, it is easier to see the ugly ramifications of too many people and too much pollution, where trees in the Black forest are dying from automobile pollution from the autobahn, no wilderness exists anymore, and an entire river can die. In the United States, unsustainable patterns are less obvious because there is more space per person. But we are not far behind our European friends.

An entirely new – green – civilization is implicated by this stark observation, which means new ways of thinking and forms of education. My view of the role of Hawaiian educators is that we are perpetually trying to make our students, who are immersed in the most narcissistic culture ever devised, understand the concept of kākou, that we’re all in this together. On the other hand, they have much more environmental consciousness than the generation that is now in power. So there’s hope. But this raising of consciousness is a central task as my generation takes over and prepares to hand power to the next. “Consciousness raising” may sound like an abstract term, but there are discrete ways of working on this that transcend anything that’s currently done in our (mostly secular) school systems. I’ve written and spoken elsewhere of these methods, which have implications larger even than the environment.

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