Day 30: Approaching Loki

Gurgy_2008_LjapunovDiagr1-7-4
Artist to come. Public Domain.

Our last  Deity Devotion question is: “any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?” Yes, I do have a few.

Don’t do what I did–which is immediately plunge in wholeheartedly. You’ll want to, but it is better to go a little slowly at first. My experiences have not been negative at all–though they have been intense–but I’m an aging Scorpio with a tremendous range of life experience. I tend to think I can get away with being reckless, even at my age. (Hubris, I know…)

Do read the lore, The Poetic Edda and The Prose Edda and others. As you do this you may become frustrated by Christian attempts to cast Loki as an evil “Norse Satan” (this comes up in The Prose Edda and modern myths), but these are still important literary references. (These are not sacred or religious texts.)

Read the books by Dagulf Loptson and Steven Grundy, Ph.D.

Get to know Loki in all his manifestations and kennings and moods. You won’t be sorry.

Enjoy devotional Loki poetry and the very wide array of contemporary Loki art.

Don’t make a promise or a vow you can’t keep. Whether your promise is trivial or vital, Loki expects that you will keep your word. So, watch your language carefully.

Regular offerings to Loki are fun to do. And altars to Loki are fun to make.

Have something to offer him if you want to ask for assistance.

Enjoy the online community. I personally like the Lokean Welcoming Committee on Tumblr, especially this FAQ, and Loki’s Wyrdlings group on Facebook (I’m a moderator for the latter). There’s even a Loki University!

If you’re interested in Heathenry, especially inclusive, social-justice-aware Heathenry, check out The Troth. They hail Loki again at their annual Trothmoot. We’re all so pleased.

Shameless plugs: Our upcoming LokiFest Online, which is free. Aug 5-9, 3-6 PM PSDT. On Zoom.

And check out Vol. 1 of our Loki’s Torch anthology, published by Loki University via MagCloud. Link to this print on demand publication will be posted tomorrow. Available in print or as a PDF.

Hail Loki!

Warning Signs of TMT Narcissism

 


(Disclaimer: This is commentary from a layperson. I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, though I am in a helping profession. I know what it’s like to support resilience and wellness in people who’ve been damaged in certain ways. And I’ve had my own personal encounters with narcissists.)

If corporations are legally “people,” why can’t they can be assessed for pathological behavior when they damage others?

The other day I created a “thought experiment” in which I discussed the impact of a fictitious golem or “Frankenstein’s monster“–called “The Abuser,” an artificial construct made of all things TMT (the project, corporation, public relations efforts, funders, strategies, actions, intentions, etc.) Though the golem is imaginary, the effects and patterns I described were all too real.

Today I’ll simply call this being “Mr. TMT.” And I’m putting him on the couch because I’m tired of watching him run amok.

Does Mr. TMT exhibit any of the nine traits of narcissism?

Narcissism is one of several diagnosable “personality disorders.” There are a plethora of books and websites to help people identify patterns of behavior for each type. The Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), created by the American Psychiatry Association, lists nine criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), but consistent demonstration of five of them will allow a diagnosis.

Does Mr. TMT exhibit narcissistic traits? Is he diagnosable? Here are the criteria from the Psychology Today website:


Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder, according to the DSM-5, exhibit five or more of the following, which are present by early adulthood and across contexts:
• A grandiose sense of self-importance
• Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
• Belief that one is special and can only be understood by or associate with special people or institutions
• A need for excessive admiration
• A sense of entitlement (to special treatment)
• Exploitation of others
• A lack of empathy
• Envy of others or the belief that one is the object of envy
• Arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes
Individuals with NPD can be easily stung by criticism or defeat and may react with disdain or anger—but social withdrawal or the false appearance of humility may also follow according to the DSM-5.
A sense of entitlement, disregard for other people, and other aspects of NPD can damage relationships.

Gosh, where to begin?

The history of the TMT project, from its inception til present day, contains persistent patterns of all of the above. Based on the following, Mr. TMT is indeed a narcissist. Whether this condition is co-morbid with sociopathy remains to be seen. If Mr. TMT decides to leave the island, maybe he’s a simple narcissist. If he insists on staying, he’s demonstrating his willingness to further damage Hawai’i’s social fabric just as much as he’s willing to damage the mountiain. That’s pretty sociopathic, the need to win no matter what.

Here are  materials or quotes from TMT sources, compared to the criteria:

• A grandiose sense of self-importance

Mr. TMT claims that what he does (astronomy) is of the utmost importance to humanity’s future, therefore the rest of us need to get out of his way. The stuff he does–because he is the one doing it–is even more important than meeting the challenges of climate change, war, poverty, species extinction, pollution, and so on. His sense of self-importance leads him to completely disregard Kanaka Maoli claims and needs regarding Mauna Kea, which is the place he has chosen as his playground. His sense of entitlement leads him to act as if the end justifies whatever means are at hand.

Note: Mr. TMT’s self-importance allows mere people to feel they are this important too.

• Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

Mr. TMT says he’s the biggest, the best, the really biggest ever…he’s essential to humanity’s future…everyone loves him except a few pesky obstructionists. Mr. TMT says that his “story is the story of the universe.” (This is starting to sound familiar…)

From a brochure called Building the Gateway to the Universe:  “(TMT) will take us on an exciting journey of discovery. The TMT will explore the origin of galaxies, reveal the birth and death of stars, probe the turbulent regions surrounding supermassive black holes, and uncover previously hidden details about planets orbiting distant stars, including the possibility of life on these alien worlds.”

Nevermind that other telescopes do this too. Or that Mr. TMT could do all this in other places besides Mauna Kea.

Note: Mr. TMT’s grandiose vision draws mere people who want to feel this grand and special also.

• Belief that one is special and can only be understood by or associate with special people or institutions

Mr. TMT’s genealogy includes some very privileged and wealthy people, Betty and Gordon Moore and their foundation. He hangs out with international wealth, power, and academic elites as a matter of course. Naturally he feels special. And look how far people are willing to go to get him what he wants! He’s not what you’d call “a cheap date.”

• A need for excessive admiration

Mr. TMT’s self-glorification screams for admiration. This is reflected in the public relations spin and TMT materials.

• A sense of entitlement (to special treatment)

He’s just a boy who can’t hear “no.” Mr. TMT insists on his right to desecrate Mauna Kea no matter what anyone else says or feels.

• Exploitation of others

Exploitation of Mauna Kea as a “resource” for astronomy, rather than as a sacred place, comes to mind. And the fact that Mr. TMT does not pay for many things and resources that it uses is also exploitive. I recently heard about an equipment storage facility or space that is being used for free. I am glad that some officials are now calling for financial audits of the costs that the islands have born, especially Hawai’i Island, with regard to TMT’s operations.

• A lack of empathy

This has been demonstrated time and again. Just compare and contrast what comes from Mr. TMT with what comes from the protectors.

• Envy of others or the belief that one is the object of envy

I don’t know. This one is difficult to pin down. Perhaps there is a competitiveness with other telescope projects, or a belief that TMT is envied by others? Perhaps this is more at play among personnel than the project as a whole?

• Arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes

The wisest elders and cultural practitioners of Hawai’i have told Mr. TMT repeatedly that Mauna Kea–the entire mountain–is a sacred place as well as a sacred being in its own right (and the home of other sacred beings), and that it is a place of paramount importance to Kanaka Maoli who do not want it desecrated. Mr. TMT is haughty and refuses to acknowedge this. Mr. TMT also does not want to acknowledge that Mauna Kea belongs to the Kanaka, who have cherished and cared for it, and observed its sacredness, keeping it kapu, for almost 2,000 years.

All actions and communication from Mr. TMT reflect this arrogant dismissal of the fundamental truths of the issue.

A Word About Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a favorite method of narcissistic manipulation. Gaslighting behavior includes the following (list quoted from another Psychology Today article).

“They tell blatant lies” to keep people off-kilter and uncertain.

Example 1. Mr. TMT says: “TMT has diligently followed the state’s laws, procedures and processes in its efforts to build TMT on Maunakea.”

Fact: State Law against desecration has been ignored, in spite of years-long, numerous expressions of concern from people in Hawai’i and around the world, which demonstrate that a “substantial segment of the population” feels “outrage” at the prospect of the TMT construction adding to the desecration of the mountain.

Fact: Kanaka Maoli have been denied full access to their sacred mountain since 2015, in violation of the state’s constitution.

“They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.”

Oh, I am sure this happens quite often. I just can’t think of an example right now.

However, given the information I’ve found (here), I think there are far deeper levels of denial at work. And behind the scenes money, donated apparently altruistically and philanthropically, could not have failed to result in pro-TMT decision-making in key agencies.

“They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.”

TMT.GetFacts.Dec1_-500x320
Source: Ads page.

The most frequent and annoying example is how some astronomers have claimed that how their astronomy (in buildings which desecrate) is sacred too, just like how the Hawaiians used to look at the stars in the old days and so they, therefore, would of course approve of the TMT.

In another example, Mr. TMT spins public relations to use the sacred and cultural practices of the Kanaka Maoli against them. By insisting that any square inch or foot that archealogists don’t recognize as having been “used” for cultural purposes is fair terrain for development, Mr. TMT promotes a disingenuous fiction that that allows him to “sell” a “we’re not doing any harm” message to the general public.

The graphic above conveniently denies Kanaka Maoli statements that the entire mountain is a sacred place and ancestor, and a home of deities, and connection to Mauna Kea is essentially wholistic in nature, not peicemeal. The map below illustrates the  “piecemeal” approach to regarding Kanaka relationship to and “use” of the mountain. The dots and triangles represent sites which archeaologists have “found” and noted, but again, the premise of the map, and the document whch contains it, does not convey the wholistic sacred nature of the place.

Mauna Kea Summit
Archaeological Monitoring Plan in Support of Construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope in the Astronomy Precinct on Mauna Kea, etc. for TMT Observatory Corporation, by Pacific Consulting Services, Honolulu, May 2013.

They also don’t tell you that anything that is found during bulldozing could be destroyed if inconvenient and that human remains just might end up in a box, in storage, in someone’s office (Source of page exerpts below: Same document as above).


 


“They wear you down over time.”

Mr. TMT, with money to burn and community to spurn, has tried very hard to wear down the protectors. At times, with individuals, there has been temporary success as some people have endured life challenges in addition to protecting their mountain. But the movement has only grown stronger and the Kia’i now enjoy world-wide support that continues to grow.

Active resistance to the proposed TMT desecration has been going on since 2009. This tactic of trying to wear people down was demonstrated over and over in the contested case hearings of 2016-2017. If I remember rightly, it began when the contested case hearings officer, Riki May Amano, arbitrarily scheduled the first hearings on dates that conflicted with the protector’s lawyer’s schedule. He had alerted officials to a prior commitment on some of the dates given. The protectors involved in the hearings were thus forced to represent themselves, do their own cross-examinations, etc. and this took far more time, and caused them great financial and emotional hardship over several months. Even so, they stood strong.

Incidently I believe Amano worked per diem, so this strategy of prolonging the process paid off handsomely for her. Taxpayers should be annoyed.

“Their actions do not match their words.”

Mr. TMT claims: “TMT…has engaged in open dialog and meaningful discussions with community members and stakeholders to better understand the island’s issues as well as the cultural and natural significance of Maunakea.to better understand the island’s issues as well as the cultural and natural significance of Maunakea.” (Source: TMT website)

Commentary: The above statement is supposed to imply endorsement of TMT’s goals or that issues have been addressed. But in any forum, any view contrary to TMT’s objective to build on Mauna Kea is ignored.

Mr. TMT shows his “understanding” in saying he will schedule “TMT observatory operations to minimize daytime activities up to four days annually in observance of Native Hawaiian cultural practices. TMT will work with the Office of Mauna Kea Management and Kahu Ku Mauna to determine days for such observances.” (Source: TMT website)

The above might sound reasonable or even generous to someone who doesn’t know any better, but the fact is, no one has the right to determine the days and times for Kanaka Maoli activity on the mountain. Practices are invidiual, family, or community-centered and do not always conform to specific calendar days. Besides, this is like telling a Christian to celebrate Christmas in July (if convenient) or a pagan to celebrate Samhain on Christmas (if convenient).

[The gall!]

“They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.”

This is where those “we only want to negotiate and reach a peaceful settlement” and the “we understand and respect you” statments belong. Fake “respect for the culture” also goes here. If Mr. TMT truly had an attitude of respect for cultural sensitivity, he would not be trying to build on Mauna Kea in the first place.

“They know confusion weakens people.”

Mr. TMT claims: “TMT will not impact the Big Island’s aquifer… Although groundwater is the primary source of drinking water in Hawaii, there are no wells extracting groundwater near the summit of Maunakea…

Counter Argument: Confusion doesn’t just weaken people, it can be dangerous. Contrary to Mr. TMT’s assertion, ground water isn’t just confined to wells and where people drill them, it goes where it will. Kealoha Pisciotta’s statement below refutes the above claim that the TMT couldn’t have an impact. If it uses as much mercury as other large telescopes do, any impact at all could be disastrous for everyone on the island.


Even though astronomy, by most standards, is considered a clean industry, it’s not without toxicity. The majority of the telescopes use quite a bit of hazardous materials. One hazardous material that we are particularly concerned about is the use of elemental mercury. We discovered that mercury was being used in quite large quantities. In one particular case, a telescope had already had three mercury spills.

The reportable quantities for mercury, according to the Health Department, is one pound. And one telescope alone uses 30 pounds. And that’s a small amount. Large monolithic telescopes use quite a bit of mercury. In one case, there’s one telescope I know uses 650 pounds of mercury.

Perhaps we’ve reached our limit of the amount of hazardous materials that can be brought up here. —Kealoha Pisciotta, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou

Another quote from Pisciotta on this same website mentions telescope use (and potential spills) of large quantities of diesel fuel and ethylene glycol.


“They project.”

Example: Governor Ige’s call for a State of Emergency and claims of drug and alcohol use at Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu seems like a classic case of projection. He and other authorities can only anticipate the use of force, and thus project their propensity for violence onto the peaceful protectors. He was quickly shown how wrong his projections were.

“They try to align people against you.”

Example: Mr. TMT has made deliberate efforts to seek out native Hawaiians who are willing to speak in favor of TMT in exchange for possible construction jobs. This is an effort to pit workers against protectors, Kanaka against Kanaka.

Mr. TMT wants people to think that if the TMT leaves, there won’t be any money for STEM education, or jobs, or whatever, and that this will all be the fault of the Kia’i.

“They tell you or others that you are crazy.”

Example: Mr. TMT has enjoyed conveying the impression that “Hawaiians are against science,” thereby implying that Hawaiian insistence on the sacredness of their mauna is somehow backward or superstitious or in the way of progress and knowledge. This tactic is supposed to undermine consideration of Kanaka claims.

“They tell you everyone else is a liar.”

I don’t know of any example of this.

Mr. TMT’s Gaslighting in Action

Several examples of Mr. TMT’s gaslighting appear in the first fifteen minutes of this video (Oct. 2014). Lanakila Manguil, stops a TMT groundbreaking ceremony that was supposed to bestow a (fake) gloss of “Hawaiian-ness” on the desecration of the Mauna. On his trip to the ground-breaking site (barefoot, on sharp lava rocks), Lanakila was almost deliberately run over by a TMT-associated vehicle (see 3.09 minutes in). He is angry in this video, for that reason and others.

But observe how TMT officials deliberately lie to and contradict Lanakila about what they are doing here–groundbreaking for the desecration–even though the truth is blatantly obvious to all. Times are approximate: (3:39) TMT official denies disrespect; (4:48) TMT official says “we don’t talk circles;” (5:20) TMT officials deny desecration; (5:27) officials deny that they are there to build anything, but Lanakila points out that “groundbreaking” is the start of construction: (8:47 ) TMT official claims he “understands and respects” the reasons people are opposing the project (an example of “false humilty” that narcissists sometimes show as part of their manipulation). And so forth. But Lanakila, and the other Kia’i (Protectors) who arrive later in the video, continue to speak truth in spite of lies and dissemblng.

 

Thinking of all of the above, it is clear to me that the relationship Mr. TMT has with all of Hawai’i, and the Kanaka Maoli and Kia’i in particular, is deeply pathological. Such abusive behavior (rooted in entitlement, colonialism, and other toxic privileging) should not be allowed to continue.

Outrage 101
July 23, 2019. Public Domain.

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What Price Mauna Kea?

…And paid by whom to whom?

Rev. Relationships GBMF:etc

[Update 8/3: corrections and new info on the charts.]

There are interesting financial and human resource relationships between The Nature Conservancy of Hawai’i and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) as a whole; Hawai’i’s Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) and Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR); the University of Hawai’i (UH); and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). All are beholden to The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF), a major force in the world of philanthropy.

Gorden Moore made his money as a co-founder of both Intel Corporation and Fairchild Superconductor. (Intel and Fairchild each have their own Superfund Clean-up Sites.) Wikipedia says his fortune is estimated at $10.4 billion as of April 2019. In 2000, the Moores established the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation with a gift of about $5 billion.

Using Strategic Philanthropy to Influence Decision-Making?

Question: Could the Moore Foundation influence public sector decision makers to support a very expensive pet project, the TMT, by making seemingly unrelated grants to other organizations and projects?

Answer: It seems very possible, based on the information in this blog. If nothing else, it bears looking into.

Major Donors Get What They Want

A word about major donors–if you’re an organization seeking funding, you don’t want to cross them. Instead, board members and fundraising staff “cultivate” major donors for as long as they possibly can. As the “third sector,” philanthropic organizations promote themselves more altruistic than the private sector but can be just as…determined…about achieving their organizational agendas.

The Moore Foundation is an extremely generous and consistent major donor to The Nature Conservancy and has been for many years. Even if they are not directly involved in a project funded by GBMF, employees at The Nature Conservancy are well aware of the Moore Foundation and other major donors who keep their projects funded and offices open. (GBMF usually gives to projects. Without projects, TNC has no reason to exist.

The Moore Foundation has a similar relationship with the University of Hawai’i, making multiple large donations every year since 2004. The Moore Foundation also provides the bulk of the funding for the Thirty Meter Telescope (via CalTech and University of California).

Just for fun, here’s a link to a timeline of legal actions against the TMT since 2011.

Sources for the numbers below are the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation website, including their tax returns, press releases, and project descriptions. Also bios on the HI DLNR website and Linked In profiles.

Rev. GBMF:TNC:UH:TMT all Pg. 1

Rev. GBMF:TNC:UH:TMT all pg. 2

Rev. GBMF:TNC:UH:TMT all pg. 3

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Display Your Outrage Over Mauna Kea Desecration

Use the image below as an icon or meme on social media to add to documentation that a “substantial segment of the public” is outraged about witnessing desecration of Mauna Kea. “Outrage” is an important part of the criteria for determining desecration has taken place as per Hawai’i State Law §711-1107 Desecration (see below).

You can also sign a special “Outrage” petition here, to help document the existence of this “substantial segment.”

I know. I know. You’d think that what’s happening this very day, and all the long days preceeding this day–through countless demonstrations of support, vigils and encampments, impassioned court case testimonies, documentary films, petitions, songs, statements, sign waving, blogs, letters of support, social media groups and so on–would have gotten this message of “outrage” through the noggins of the powers that be. But those noggins seem to be willfully, cruelly obtuse.

Outrage 101
July 23, 2019. Public Domain.

Even if this gambit has been tried and rejected in the past, now in 2019, the world is paying more attention to Mauna Kea and the Protectors than ever before. And social media has become an even more powerful purveyor of social change messages. Perhaps a simple graphic, such as the above, posted by thousands or hundreds of thousands of Kiai’ and allies, could add one more helpful way to provide irrefutable documentation that unlawful desecration exists with respect to Mauna Kea.

Take the above. Use it in whatever way will serve the cause of protecting Mauna Kea.


The State Law 

§711-1107 Desecration. (1) A person commits the offense of desecration if the person intentionally desecrates:
(a) Any public monument or structure;
(b) A place of worship or burial; or
(c) In a public place the national flag or any other object of veneration by a substantial segment of the public.
(2) “Desecrate” means defacing, damaging, polluting, or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the defendant knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the defendant’s action.
(3) Any person convicted of committing the offense of desecration shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. [L 1972, c 9, pt of §1; gen ch 1993; am L 2002, c 198, §1]


#WeAreMaunaKea

 

 

Signs of NeoPagan Support for Mauna Kea

Today, Monday, July 22, the sun enters Leo. And finally I am seeing some signs of support for the Mauna Kea Kia’i (protectors) from people in some parts of the neopagan communities.

So, here’s some good news:

The Troth just issued an open letter to Governor Ige of Hawai’i, expressing support for the preservation of Mauna Kea from desecration, and for the struggle of the Kia’i to protect it. I am proud to be a member of this inclusive heathenry organization.

And I just came across this post from Marc, on the blog, Of Axe and Plow, calling for “the wider pagan community” to show support for Mauna Kea and the protectors. It’s a great read!

Update: The Wild Hunt includes an article about Mauna Kea.

That’s it for now. Will add more signs of wider pagan community support as I find them. Ku Kia’i Mauna!

And let’s not forget to show solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico! They are demonstrating in huge numbers today, demanding the resignation of their governor. 

67164068_273348043532117_8470085410800795648_o

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Mauna Kea and the Moore Foundation’s Hypocrisy

Disclaimer: The following rather harsh critique is strictly limited to the impact of the Moore Foundation’s funding of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) via CalTech and the University of CA–as it affects Mauna Kea–and is not meant as a sweeping generalization of the funding impacts of other grants to other organizations, projects, peoples, or parts of the world. Let’s just be clear about that.

There’s No Place Like Home

Two years ago, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF), published a piece in the Learning section of their website called “Perspective: Grateful for this place we call home,” The photograph accompanying this article is a sweeping panorama of South Bay hills that certainly would not be as lovely should an 18-story telescope be built on the skyline. What follows is a quote from the piece:


“Silicon Valley is the place we call home. Our founders, Gordon and Betty Moore, spent most of their lives and raised their family in this region. It is the place where Gordon co-founded two iconic companies – Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel. And, it is where our foundation is located.

A passion for this region is in our DNA.”


One could be forgiven for thinking that such heartfelt boilerplate is evidence that the grantmaking heads of this foundation are capable of recognizing and honoring the family values and “passion for a region” that the Kanaka Maoli have for Mauna Kea and the rest of their ‘aina. After all, the Kanaka have lived in their island home as far back as 400 C.E. Very old families, one might say.

By contrast, the Moore family has just a few generations of California settler-colonial history and yet claim “DNA-based” ties to their beloved Silicon Valley. I agree, humanity in general has the capacity to become deeply rooted in place–even new places–and can be passionate about those roots. If just a generation or two of settlement history can twang the DNA heartstrings of a Gordon and Betty, imagine the depth, the extent of the love, the connection, the ancestral ties felt by the Kanaka Maoli (and other indigenous peoples) who have hundreds and thousands of years of family history invested in their homelands.

One might think an organization of broad and beneficent vision, as expressed in the Moore Foundation “perspectives,” would be able to “grok” this, but I suppose the unalloyed enjoyment of “passion for a region” is something allowed only to the very, very wealthy.

Speaking of indigenous people, where did the first peoples of the Silicon Valley go? Oh yes, didn’t California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, just apologize in June for the genocidal slaughter of a majority of California’s first peoples, starting in 1850?

As for the legacy of soil and groundwater contamination created by Gordon Moore’s semi-conductor companies, now Superfund Clean-up sites

…Lovely view of the valley, don’t you think?

The Thirty Meter Telescope – 18 Stories of Desecration Planned for a Sacred Mountain

Making science, exploring the universe, discovering new galaxies, teetering on the rim of black hole event horizons–astronomy is the good guy, right? Who could object to it? Well,  blithe star-bitten glamour aside, objections can be made to doing astronomy in a place and in a way that causes immense harm to any indigenous people who revere that place. It’s not the astronomy that’s objectionable, folks, it’s the location, location, location!

This 2017 film chronicles 50 years of gross mismanagement of Mauna Kea and the destruction wrought by telescope development. Only six minutes long.

Below you can see how much this dream of science means to the Moore Foundation. Here is what they have invested in the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)–a project always depicted in magical-thinking public relations “photos” as a structure already built on Mauna Kea, complete with a night sky of stars twinkling in the background–beckoning idealistic astronomers from afar. The same night sky, by the way, that Hawaiians and their ancestors have been accustomed to look upon with unimpeded views and important sight lines, from the summit of one of their most sacred places in all the islands, all the way over to Haleakala (another sacred mountain) on Maui and beyond.

The sums below represent how badly the GBMF and other TMT-on-Mauna Kea proponents want to get their way. Much is at stake. But still more is at stake for the Kanaka Maoli, their descendants, and the Mauna itself.

BGMF TMT FUNDING
Source: Figures taken from the website of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, https://www.moore.org

Toxic Philanthropy

Anthony Trollope, a Victorian novelist once wrote, “I have sometimes thought that there is no being so venomous, so bloodthirsty as a professed philanthropist.” This is from his novel, North America, published in 1862. Times have not changed. I found Trollope’s quote in an article called “Toxic Philanthropy? The Spirit of Giving While Taking” (Lynn Parramore, Dec. 10, 2018). The article discussed Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, a book by business reporter Anand Giridharadas. The article was published on the website of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, co-founded by George Soros. (Link to board and staff page.)

Though the book apparently focuses mostly on a new generation of “21st-century ‘philanthrocapitalists,’” two paragraphs of the review seem relevant to classic brand of philanthropy now affecting Mauna Kea:


“Giridharadas presents searching conversations with well-educated, often well-meaning people floating above and apart from the lives of ordinary Americans, wishing to ease their consciences but failing both to clearly see the problems of society and to notice, for more than a nagging moment, the ways in which their own lives are financed by the fruits of injustice. They end up embracing a warm-and-fuzzy vision of changing the world that leaves brutal underlying structures securely in place.

The author has said what few who have traveled in this world have said plainly, lest their passport be revoked: the efforts of philanthrocapitalists are largely disruptive, rather than beneficial, to public life.”


Ruthless self-examination might be in order for the philanthropic community, especially powerful grantmakers like the Moore Foundation. Such examination and organizational assessment might reveal their own (even if inadvertant) complicity in past and present acts that perpetuate cultural violence and genocide. This is the kind of self-examination that people in other walks of life are just now starting to embark upon.

The communication model known as the Johari Window, particularly that upper right hand corner called “known to others, not known to self,” can be an effective way to approach unacknowledged privilege and entitlement assumptions, factors that cause “good” intentions, and “good” works to pave a “road to hell” for others. Sometimes we cannot see ourselves in the mirror, in the same way that others see us, looking in.

Right now, those who stand on or with Mauna Kea see “in” to the GBMF and its associates, with devastating accuracy.

Checking Your Privilege and Complicity

As of Sunday morning, July 21st, at 7:37 AM PSDT, 698 astronomers (and a few academics in other fields) have signed the letter (1) condemning the arrests of kupuna on Mauna Kea last Wednesday and (2) inviting “the astronomy community to suggest more links and ideas on how to divest from using state-sanctioned violence in the construction of facilities for our field’s future.” This is a long-overdue invitation, from within that rarified community, to consider the ethical implications of how and where they do their science, and at what cost to others.

And as mentioned in an earlier blog post, this week 100 religious leaders also signed a letter of inter-faith solidarity, recognizing the spiritual traditions of Kanaka Maoli as equally valid as their own. Many of the people signing are associated with religious institutions which have their own historical complicity of disregarding native traditions and/or causing colonial and state-sanctioned violence (e.g. missionary work in Hawai’i; stones from sacred heiau used to build churches, etc.). Here is an excerpt from that letter:


“The controversy surrounding the TMT telescope continues to highlight the struggle of native peoples to protect and preserve their sacred sites from desecration.

We the undersigned have a responsibility not to stay silent in the face of injustice. We are not against science or scientific research. But it should be done in an appropriate location.

Building one more gigantic telescope on our sacred mountain might harm the natural environment, and the spiritual integrity. In light of recent arrest of kupuna, in the act of peaceful civil disobedience, the questionable telescope project is certainly harming the deep peace of our Hawaiian community!

Some may disagree, but we believe the mountain belongs to the Kanaka maoli. It is part of their homeland.

And they must have a say about what to do and what not to do on their sacred land! We offer our prayers in solidarity with all our kanaka maoli sisters and brothers who feel oppressed, bullied, and not listened to.”


Let’s remember too that all this is taking place in the context of the present and historical belligerent occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom, an occupation which has ongoing political, cultural, social, legal, economic, environmental, and personal and community health impacts, etc., on Kanaka Maoli since 1893. (Other Hawaiian Kingdom subjects were people from elsewhere who were naturalized before 1893).

To put it clearly, the above describes a state of ongoing, pervasive violence for generations, mostly impacting the Kanaka Maoli, who–if you remember from above–have a deep and abiding attachment and relationship to their ‘aina, their ancestors, and to their spiritual relationships to na akua (the deities) or ke akua (one deity). Multi-generational trauma is a comparatively recent development in psychology, pioneered by Dr. Joy DeGruy and others. It is now widely accepted by in the field of psychology. Trauma can become part our DNA and is passed to our children and grandchildren.

(Did we mention the view yet?)

Though Kanaka are not monolithic in their spiritual beliefs and traditions, it is probably safe to say–given the widespread support given to the Kia’i–that Mauna Kea is foundational and sacred, as a cultural icon, as a place of deep cultural significance, and as a felt, ancestral, spiritual presence (and a place that is the home of other deities as well.)

Back to the Future We Don’t Want: The Cycle of Philanthropic Violence

There’s quite a lot about how the TMT project has tromped on Kanaka Maoli and their indigenous rights and traditions that reminds me of an abuser who insists that you’ll enjoy it if only you’d relax and give in. Or perhaps the forces behind the TMT are inherantly sociopathic, determined to win at any cost, crushing whoever and whatever gets in their way.

Seriously. I am seriously saying this.

Sociopaths begin by charming others. Philanthropists charm others by holding out the prospect of a juicy grant for a project. “Court me as a major donor,” they wink, but nothing is free, and the power that money wields is everything.

640px-Cycle_of_Abuse
The cycle of abuse is a social cycle theory developed in 1979 by Lenore E. Walker to explain patterns of behavior in an abusive relationship. From http://www.stewardshipreport.com/understanding-the-cycle-of-abuse/

 

I’ve watched the growth of the movement for the Mauna, and against telescope desecration, for many years now. I remember things. So as sort of thought experiment, I’d like us to consider the abusive nature of the TMT project, its impact on the Kanaka Maoli as a series of deliberate non-consensual violations and micro- and macroaggressions causing physical and psychological harm to other human beings. These violations have already caused multi-generational trauma for a large number of people. They already affect multiple generations. (The protectors of Mauna Kea range from toddlers to people in their 90s.)

Some of what I describe below may fit into the pattern of the above chart, some may not. I actually feel that we’re seeing several swirling cycles of corporate, government, and philanthropic abuse happening simultaneously, at different paces, originating from different groups of pro-TMT stakeholders.

For this thought experiment, you can imagine “The Abuser” as a Frankenstein’s Monster, a sort of golem animated and fed by philanthropic, governmental, and corporate privilege AND the sum total of all actions taken to advance that being’s agenda on Mauna Kea.

(1) The Abuser makes an initial threat of violence–in this case, the threatened desecration of a sacred place of ancestral and spiritual significance, in spite of legal, cultural, and environmental objections. It will not listen when you say “no” and it will not stop.

Remember, Hawai’i has a “state” law, §711-1107, against desecration which incorporates the concept of “outrage” as one of the standards for determining that desecration has taken place. Outrage is a way of saying “no!” The law is supposed to make violators listen.

(2) Reports of outrage and harm are dismissed by authorities–or reluctantly heard and reported. No one does much of anything to uphold the law or prevent further violations. Plus, authorities often blame the targets for the harm that is done to them. The blame could sound like this. You wouldn’t have been hurt:

• IF only you wore something different. For example, ” That Kia’i hat? You look like you’re asking for trouble!”

• IF you assimilated more fully. For example, “If you were more like the settler-colonists here, you wouldn’t care and this would be a non-issue.”

• IF you felt completely differently about what is happening. For example, “What educated person would claim to be related to a mountain? Who has DNA with a landscape feature? Surely we don’t do that sort of thing in Silicon Valley.”

• IF you tried to look on the bright side. For example, “Hey, at least The Abuser is promising you a job and money for STEM education. Suck it up!”

And then there’s the dismissal: “You’ll get over it.”

(3) The Abuser questions the status and/or sincerity of the person complaining. This was in play during moments in various hearings when Kia’i were asked, in so many words, “Are you a REAL Hawaiian? Do you really do that cultural practitioner stuff? Prove it.”

(4) The Abuser gaslights, attempting to sow self-doubt:

• “Conservation district regulations have to be taken seriously? Silly! No one pays attention to those. Look at all the telescopes that are here already!”

• “No one actually tried to hit you with a car on the Access Road while you were protecting the Mauna. You must have imagined it.”

• “No one around here would have dismantled your ‘ahu. You must be crazy to think that.”

• “We don’t really want to deny you your constitutional rights of access to cultural and sacred places, we’re just worried about your health and safety.”

• “A bond? What bond?”

(5) In addition to direct threats, The Abuser threatens to harm other things or people if you don’t give in. Examples:

• arrests of kupuna with an implied promise of more arrests to come;

• Ige’s Declaration of a State of Emergency and calls for National Guard and additional police from other islands;

• the project’s potential to harm to na ‘iwi (remains of the ancestors), endangered bugs and plants, pu’u and other features of the Mauna. And so forth.

(6) The Abuser creates a climate of fear. See 5. Also, retaliating against potential or actual allies, as was done to at least one porta-potty contractor, who was threatened with fines.

(7) The Abuser placates:

• “We’ll make a committee to oversee cultural practices on the mountain. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

• “We’ll give more money for STEM education.”

• “I’m like you. I just want to go up to the mountain to pray.” (A reference to Ige’s visit to the Mauna in 2015).

(8) The Abuser retaliates by controling the movement and behavior of the target. For example, cultural practitioners have been denied their access to the Mauna for quite a long time now, in violation of their traditional and customary rights as per the state constitution. Or maybe–if they promise to be good–they could be allowed to travel up the mountain in special, supervised vans. The astronomers, including many foreigners, get complete unimpeded access. But the Kanaka cultural practitioners are treated like unruly children.


 TRADITIONAL AND CUSTOMARY RIGHTS

Section 7. The State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupua’a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to the right of the State to regulate such rights. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]


(9) The Abuser lies about the target in order to marginalize, isolate, and undermine social support for the target. Example: “There are drugs and alcohol at Pu’u Huluhulu” to smear the Kia’i as irresponsible people who are desecrating their own sacred space. There’s a world of wrongdoing in this particular lie. This tactic also plays to racism against Kanaka Maoli.

And so on… It’s an ugly portrait of cycles of abuse writ large, but cognitive dissonance, defined as “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change” allows philanthropic elites to avoid recognizing the impact of their actions on people whose rights and interests they dismiss.

Why So Much Good Work Elsewhere, and So Little Similar Concern for Kanaka Maoli, for Mauna Kea, and for Hawai’i?

Now, I’ve been hard on a lot of people here, particularly the Moore Foundation, and yet I do want to be fair. I’ve scanned many pages of Moore Foundation giving histories and they give to a number of causes and organizations that I personally support–or would like to support (had I the funds).

Here are some examples of good work the Foundation has done elsewhere, which demonstrate a history of goodwill, humanitarian values, and a thoughtfulness that could easily be extended to Mauna Kea and its protectors.

Conservation of native habitat and species. “Since 2001, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Bay Area conservation portfolio has been supporting groups working to conserve native habitat and species in the San Francisco Bay Area.” (March 2017)

Since Mauna Kea is a sensitive environment, legally a conservation district, and is already experiencing “serious, adverse impacts” as a result of the industrial-strength astronomy already in place on Mauna Kea, the Moore Foundation could easily reconsider their attachment to Mauna Kea as the site of the TMT, as such a decision would be congruent with their own vaunted conservation consciousness.

Recognition of Indigenous Lands. “The Colombian Amazon stretches across nearly half of the country, and is a priority region for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Andes-Amazon Initiative. Moore funding has supported the creation and consolidation of protected areas, and recognition and management of indigenous lands.” (Feb. 2017)

Again, in the interest of congruence with vaunted concerns about protecting indigenous areas, the Moore Foundation could easily comprehend that Mauna Kea IS indigenous land in need of protection, and act accordingly.

Women in science — making the invisible, visible. “The data on the dearth of women in science is clear and far reaching. Women are underrepresented along the pathway from undergraduate to faculty to leadership positions in most research and scientific communities. This is particularly true for women of color.” (Feb. 2018)

Great. Yay for figuring that out. However, I do wonder why some of that concern for “invisible” women of color can’t be extended to the Kanaka Maoli, people “of color” in Hawai’i, who seem to be invisible to the Moore Foundation and its TMT collaborators? It would be really easy to achieve cognitive congruence by resisting the urge to mentally erase the concerns of people of color who are standing in the way of your pet project.

The importance of accuracy in science journalism. The Moore Foundation showed its concern about “pressing issues of accuracy and honesty in media” by giving support to a report issued by “Knight Science Journalism at MIT”: The State of Fact-Checking in Science Journalism.” (Sept. 2018)

I hope the future of fact-checking in science journalism includes facts about cultural, social, and physical/mental health impacts of large-scale projects in indigenous places, in spite of the objections of residents.

New training on working with government officials guides private foundations to stay in compliance with the law. Here’s an interesting one! A concern for philanthropic compliance with the law, including interactions with government officials. (Jan. 2016).

Now, the Moore Foundation gives to the TMT project through donations to CalTech and the University of California. I am sure this is all right and proper, with the added advantage that this strategy of giving places the foundation carefully upstream from the numerous downstream violations to Hawai’i law on behalf of the TMT. I am no expert in the conservation district violations that would occur should TMT break ground, but I know people who are. I understand there are at least eight serious violations. I’ve also mentioned the Hawai’i state law against desecration (above), with its the criteria of causing outrage, as well as the violations of traditional and customary rights guaranteed to the Kanaka Maoli by the State of Hawai’i. Not to mention arrests for advocating for those laws and rights to be upheld. I am sure there is more that could be said.

So I would think respect for Hawai’i laws and indigenous rights would be an appropriate concern for a foundation seeking to do things in a legal and ethical manner. Such consideration would be congruent with the stated interests and values of the organization.

And just because I’m an unrepentant gadfly, I would also recommend that the Moore Foundation begin to enfold consideration of the Resolution 61/295: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) (2007). This resolution does not have the force of law, and apparently the U.S. has not agreed to sign it. However, the resolution does have the force of moral high ground and integrity. The entire document is relevant to the struggle to protect Mauna Kea, but I’ve picked out three of the Articles, so you don’t have to take my word for it:


Article 8
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.

Article 11
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.

Article 12
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.


I would think that any entity as wealthy and powerful as the Moore Foundation could use UNDRIP as part of their criteria for assessing grant proposals which might impact indigenous peoples and lands. It would be so appreciated and set a good example for others in the philanthropic community.

Finally, Forgiveness

The beauty of Kapu Aloha as practiced by the Kia’i is that enduring enmity does not have to be born of conflict. What has been enacted these last several years has provided unexpected, complicated lessons (and a great deal of stress) for all concerned, whether intimately involved or watching from afar. All that the Moore Foundation and other TMT stakeholders need to do is (1) agree to not build the TMT on Mauna Kea or any other place in Hawai’i and (2) sincerely apologize to the Kanaka Maoli. It would be so philanthropic!

Then the beauty of forgiveness and aloha can be extended. Healing can begin. (And all the while, the beauty of Kapu Aloha is thriving and growing at Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu.)

As one of the Kia’i said in the Friday press conference, there is no aloha without truth–and what is contained in this blog is part of the truth and a perspective seldom offered to a popular audience. But I admit, I’ve been a bit snarky here and there, so kala mai!

I hold strong hopes for the triumph of the Kia’i and the protection of the Mauna, as well as the construction of the TMT in some other location (they do have a “Plan B”). And strong hopes too that the executives of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation might stand with us and peer into the upper right hand corner of their own Johari Window, clearly seeing the opportunities to correct misalignment with their stated values and mission, making common cause instead of inflicting corporatized cruelty.

Let what happens next be in perfect congruence and accord with Hawaiian values. It’s the only way.

Ku Kia’i Mauna!


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