I am honored to stand with the citizens of the Hawaiian Kingdom as they seek to protect what is sacred. Mauna Kea, one of the highest peaks on the big island reaching above 13,000 feet, is considered the piko or navel of the island archipelago; it connects the Hawaiian people to their past. But as part of the injustices of the illegal occupation*, the mountain has been commodified and slapped with a price tag. Scientists seek to use this high altitude location near the equator for astronomy research, but the observatory they seek to build–TMT–threatens the ecosystem and even worse, desecrates sacred land.
It’s as if I welcomed a visitor and let them stay in my room. They appreciated my space and enjoyed it’s beauty, but then decided that they wanted to make some changes. My art work was torn off the walls and thrown aside, my family pictures shredded to pieces, my journal and favorite books burned in a trash pile and my quilt and pillows smothered in mud and discarded. How would this make me feel? Violated. Abused. Betrayed.
Much more than a bedroom has been taken from my Hawaiian brothers and sisters, their entire island chain has been exploited for the past 250 years and yet, they still extend welcome and they still shower me and other new-comers with aloha. How is this possible!? I am baffled. I am seeing a new side of the heart of God. A God who extends love to me and welcomes me into his presence even when my actions are so dishonoring to his holiness and glory. The Hawaiian people have showed me what it means to act pono, righteously, when they are continuously treated with disregard.
And that is why I stand with the kanaka, people of the land. They have been good guardians and stewards for centuries, for millennia. Let us not return their welcome by stealing one of their most precious treasures. Now is the time to return what is rightfully theirs: the mountain and the right to self-governance.
In the words of King Kamehameha III after the sovereignty of the islands was restored after a brief occupation by the British, “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono ia Iesu Kristo“, “The life (soverignty) of the land is perpetuated in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.” One day, all things will be made right.
*While most people in the United States know Hawaii as the 50th state in the union, circa 1959, others understand that Hawaii still remains a sovereign Kingdom, as was first recognized by the community of nations in 1843. With this understanding, sovereignty has not ceased, rather, Hawaii has been under illegal occupation by the US military since the illegal occupation beginning in 1893. Learn more from this article in the Nation. Also check out Hawaiiankingdom.net
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