POSTED: 26 DECEMBER 2006 - 3:30pm HST

Looking to our Pacific Island Neighbors

album cover of "South Pacific Islands" presented by

by Mark Jeffers on 25 December 2006

Kauai is one of the most beautiful & charming island communities in the world, bar none.

Increasingly, like the song says about New York City, if a person or family can make it here, they can make it anywhere. Because we are a part of America, we inherit the American Dream including the "two weeks off to visit Paradise", except . . . . . we happen to be paradise or at least in the day - dreams of our visitors.
This creates a paradox. A paradox is a story problem that doesn't really have an answer; the problem must be solved by changing the story's foundation at its roots.

We who live on this island and call Kaua`i home are providing our guests and foreign visitors with life styles and a variety of material choices of goods and services that we cannot even provide for our own selves or our families. Why do we do that, offer more than we have? This American Paradox dream continues to crowd out island life styles here. . . including many endemic & indigenous people, plants, and varied life forms. It seems to be our islands' "inconvenient truth", but real nevertheless. How will our youth choose to stay and make a home & family, without actually owning? By creating the current situation we have borrowed from their future and we continue to do so.

When speaking to island children & youth I recommend all of them to visit the US mainland in their lifetime, but more so, I recommend they visit several of the more than 15,000 islands at home here in the Pacific, where the real island cultural success stories are to be learned within Aloha.

Increasingly we are adopting US Mainland values with choices we are making about who comes here to live, what is built here, and what things are bought and sold here. I'm sorry but "Unlimited Construction Services Inc.," should change its business name now that it has found its home on limited Kaua`i. With the US mainland choices we are compelled to make, come US mainland problems, i.e. overwhelming traffic, disrespect for our aina, lack of good opportunity to utilize the land, widening gap between the rich and the poor. We do not need the lights of each small town on Kaua`i to grow together. Let each town have it's history & identity, not like LA or O'ahu where towns grow from clumps like bamboo and loose their identity.

What does Kaua`i stand for? What is our foundation? Forgetting what things stand for is dangerous.. . As a wise kupuna said to me. . " If we as a people don't know our foundation. . . then we have no foundation". In many ways that is what we see all around us, people acting without a sense of their foundation.

What is suffering now is our Kaua`i lifestyle and our ability to limit the growth of our islands problems. We all know what they are and just because a politician can list them, does not mean that solutions are being found in effective and timely ways. We need leadership and aloha to face these growing concerns.

I believe that Kaua`i needs a return to a more sovereign form of governance, perhaps a sovereign elected island governor with a council of elected volunteer town mayors. We should become an island example of how each place can govern itself within a limited relationship to America. And we should be looking to our Pacific Island neighbors to help us learn how to wean ourselves from Colonial Capitalism, which is what maintains the huge gap between our islands' poor and rich families and overburdens the middle class.