Okay, so the neighborhood bear broke my favorite red flowerpot in the middle of the night and traumatized the geranium that was barely holding on. And the turkey flock who takes over my yard at least twice a day, pecking for bugs or raiding the outdoor cat’s food dish, scrapes and scratches the crab grass to bits (not that I much care). Flocks of quail skitter through as well, never any trouble. Someone spotted a family of foxes the other day, and so now I’m worried about the feral kittens I’ve just taken on…
As “difficult” as I might find my animal relatives from time to time (black widow spider, do you really need to make your web in the coil of my garden hose?) I am sure it’s nowhere near as difficult as they find me–us–humans. As a species we are clearly beyond insane and every single creature on this planet probably suffers from Post-Human Trauma Syndrome. I am not joking.
But I am pleased by my visitors, even the clumsy bear. And the earth is generous to me. I eat from this land. My neighborhood is fed by a spring–a real, living spring!–and I bless it every day. I feel emotionally held by the trees, mountain, and lake that I see from my window and greet each morning. And I believe that this act of greeting is what allows me to engage with them in a deeper way. This engagement leads to communication (I think) which engenders respect (at least on my end), which transforms into reverence (from me) for most of what’s around me. (I’m not feeling much reverence for the neighbors who were arguing loudly yesterday afternoon.)
As a child, I think I lived this way naturally. Then I forgot it for a long time. And now near the end of my life, I’m relearning and living this way again. I’m cultivating this life with devotional practices, so what I do can look a little quaint. I don’t mind. For a long time, I’ve been seeking some way to live reverently.
Yearning for Justice and an Earth-Reverent Life
Except for the uber-rich and the sociopaths who fancy themselves at the top of corporate and governmental “food chains,” I feel that many of the rest of us humans are longing for reverence. We want to get back into balance, back to a state of what the Kanaka Maoli would call “aloha ‘aina” (loving the land). We want people, plants, animals, and our planet to be treated fairly again. We need to learn how to deal fairly with all that is, ourselves.
I suspect that a yearning for an Earth-reverent life as well as justice are reasons that Mauna Kea and its Protectors (Kia’i) have become an international flashpoint this summer. Thinking and feeling people (not those who are lumpish with greed and glutted with power) see how bad it’s gotten and how much worse it can and will get. Unless… unless… unless we come together. Unless we learn how to make community again–if we live among people where such skills are rusty–and to include the Earth and its creatures in that community, as equals and stakeholders. We need a world where our mountains, forests, rivers, deserts, lakes, species, and oceans are “people” too, with legal rights. (Corporations are just golems. They shouldn’t have rights at all.)
The animists are right, you know. All matter is imbued with consciousness. Studies show…
As for justice, we also need to ensure that legal human rights are strictly observed as well, that the rights of indigenous and aboriginal peoples are upheld and strengthened. It’s a key element in the only positive future we can possibly achieve. The health and safety of every human, every creature on this planet, and the planet itself depends on our taking this very, very seriously.
And it’s imperative that those who make a request of a mountain or a lake–or an indigenous or aboriginal community–learn to take “no” for an answer, if that’s the answer that’s given. Because you know what? Consent counts. It really does. And no amount of wheedling or PR spin can change that. TMT guys are coming on like rapists, frankly, and their “you know you want it” approach to the mountain is disgusting to the rest of us.
This stunning short film, featuring Jason Momoa and a number of the Mauna Kea Kia’i, makes these issues abundantly clear, in case it wasn’t clear enough already.
Love of Place
Almost every Hawaiian mele (song) and oli (chant) is either about a beloved place, or includes references to beloved places. Almost every single one. Places aren’t “just” locations for family and community life, they ARE family. That’s as near as I can express it. I think I’ve got it nearly right.
Other examples of passionate love of place: I think of the French writer Colette, who wrote so movingly about the countryside of her childhood.
I’ve always been deeply affected by places I’ve lived, even if briefly. I attach to houses and landscape features very easily and mourn when I have to leave them. Themes of exile and homesickness are strong in my life, and these feelings of longing are often unbearable. I still miss “Nemo’s Rock” in the Coronado tide pools and the houses on Loma Avenue and Loma Lane, not far from the beach. I deeply mourn the cottage across from La Jolla Cove (below) where I lived as a teenager (it’s now demolished). I remember the light and feel of the air in La Jolla so vividly that I’ve cried over it. Certain places where I’ve lived in San Francisco and Albany also still clutch at my heart. I dearly miss the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. I used to go there in the early morning, after dropping my first kid off at preschool, and sip green tea in the teahouse. Sometimes rain would dapple the koi ponds.
But the island of O’ahu gave me my first experience with exile and homesickness. When I was five I lived on Lipe’epe’e Street in Waikiki. Though my family was there for less than a year, the feel of the ocean water, the sand beneath my feet, flowers and trees, and the sight of the Ko’olau Range east of Honolulu, all were absorbed by my soul. Later, I must have buried my yearning for Hawai’i as surely as I squashed feelings of missing my father. I say that because my yearning roared to life when (1) I saw the Hokule’a voyaging canoe when it visited San Francisco, and (2) when I returned to the islands with a series of visits starting in 2000–first Maui, then Hawai’i island. On Maui and Hawai’i I experienced a bewildering assortment of numinous and healing experiences. These were confusing because I have no genealogical connection to explain them. For many years, I felt like I was living with one foot in California, the other in Hawai’i.
I moved to Hawai’i Island in 2016, living on Mano Street in Pahoa for seventeen months. Even though I moved there with the expectation of being happy “at last,” it was a bad time for me. I had post-divorce crazies, terrible social anxiety and depression, frequent suicidality, and a longtime love affair gone wrong. But in that house on Mano Street, I began my inquiries into magic, refined my polytheism, and began to cultivate spirit relationships through devotional practices. It’s ironic. I’d prayed for so long to be allowed to move to Hawai’i, and once I was there, I prayed fervently for permission to leave. When I finally got my dismissal from the Powers there, I made the most costly and physically devastating move of my life.
But would it surprise you if I told you that now I miss my house and the Puna district? I miss the thirty-foot tall hibiscus trees dripping red blossoms on all three sides of my yard. I miss the ‘ohia lehua trees. I miss the spaciousness of my house, its high ceiling and large windows that looked out on jungle all around me. I miss my “difficult” and noisy neighbors: the shrill coqui frogs and gutteral cane toads. I miss picking up fallen coconuts; the “bathtubs” of morning rain dumped on my metal roof (which scared the cats until they got used to the noise); wild orchids and ti plants; the Ahalanui Warm Ponds (covered with lava now); the young coconut grove and view of the ocean from Kalapana, just across from Uncle Robert’s place. I miss driving the Red Road from Hawaiian Beaches past the “Four Corners.” I miss Mauna Loa and Kilauea. And yes, I miss Mauna Kea.
I believe it is natural for human beings to cherish the soil where they live, and to feel kinship with it.
So you see, Mauna Kea, is a cherished ancestor, as well as a beloved place, so how could the Kanaka Maoli ever consent to simply hand it over to people who have no reverent life at all? And why should the Kanaka have ever been asked this in the first place? Why should we ask them to break their hearts simply at the whim of a science that could go elsewhere?
This last month has felt bifurcated. On the one hand, I was finishing up two important acts of devotional service for the Norse Loki Laufeyjarson, my patron deity, and on the other hand I was called into service on behalf of Mauna Kea and Poliahu, its goddess of the snow.
I know. It sounds weird, doesn’t it?
I guess that’s just how it rolls in polytheism, especially when you work with deities from different pantheons. Bifurcation, trifurcation, whatever-furcation!!!
In my most recent work for Loki, of course I’m referring to the LokiFest Online conference and the completion of work on Loki’s Torch, an anthology of devotional work. I’m now experiencing a post-project “let down” (I hear that’s normal) with only vague intimations of what’s coming up next.
In my work on behalf of sacred Mauna Kea, I’m referring to signal boosting and writing, as an ally from afar. And of course I’m not going to stop finding ways to pass along information about the cause. It’s also a gift to connect once again with the spirit of Kapu Aloha, as exemplified by the Mauna Kea Kia’i (protectors). I so want them to win!
The above is background for an unexpected grace that’s emerged in these last few weeks. I had thought that my incongruous relationship with the “powers” of Hawai’i had been severed back in 2017, and I’ve felt a sense of exile, and a vague shame, ever since. Finding that connection fanned into life again, as part of a “call” for everyone to show up for the Mauna and for the Kanaka Maoli, has been healing. All I had ever wanted, really, was to be of use to Hawai’i nei (beloved Hawai’i).
And why is that?
Because, starting the early 2000’s, Maui and Hawai’i islands whammed me with a spiritual epiphany and then bestowed substantial healing for my environmental illness. I have no idea why, but it happened and I benefited. In return, I pledged to do whatever I could for Hawai’i as a “give-back.” I’ve often been clumsy in how I went about this, and have stumbled on the paving stones of “good intentions” as I travel my personal “road to Hel.” But I did try to keep my vow even when looking (and acting) the fool. I guess it feels good to have another opportunity to potentially contribute.
Years later, Loki also saved my life, coming to me during a time of utmost despair and shame. I made a vow to him too, oathing myself to him and his service. However he understands that I’ve also got previous commitments. He graciously stepped to the side as Mauna Kea came front and center on July 15th. (Besides I was still doing his work, as well.)
Come to think of it, I’m no stranger to bifurcation (trifurcation, whatever-furcation!). I’ve straddled worlds and juggled distinctly different viewpoints and approaches as a parent, in my romantic relationships, in my career, and in my creative work and spiritual quests. I’m always in exile, never entirely at home. Yet, there are common themes with all of this. But maybe only I can see, from my own peculiar vantage point, how it makes sense for me to honor deities of both the Norse and Hawaiian pantheons, as long as my offerings are acceptable.
My favorite Loki artist, Sceithailm on Deviant Art (aka Sceith-A), often depicts Loki as shod on the right foot, shoeless on the left, walking between worlds. How lucky I am to be at last with a deity who understands. My own right foot walks the Midgard realm known as Turtle Island. My left foot–apparently–never really did leave the ‘aina.
It’s the 28th day of my Thirty Days of Devotion and the topic is “something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently.”
Well…these larger subtle-bodied beings we refer to as deities, are essentially mysterious to us. That might have more to do with our limitations rather than their desire to be opaque and so this question makes me realize I don’t even know what it is that I don’t know that I wish I knew.
But if I have any question at all about the roles that these various beings have or have had in my life, it’s “why them (in particular) and why me (in particular)?” In other words, I don’t just have this question about my patron, the Norse Loki Laufeyjarson, I have this question about others I’ve worked with, or who have approached me.
An Unexpected Knock on the Door
For example, a few days before July 14th, when the Kia’i (Protectors) were on Mauna Kea to do ceremony at Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu and establish their encampment in their sacred place of refuge, the Celtic goddess known as The Morrigan was tapping at my psyche (not for the first time). She is a battle goddess known as the “Great Queen” in Ireland. So I spent a couple of days with a book I have, and some websites, just to see if I should follow up with her. The Morrigan is known for having a fierce interest in social justice issues and I can feel drawn to her on that account. But part of me still felt hesitant. For one thing, I already have a deep, fairly time-consuming commitment to a super-intense being: Loki Laufeyjarson. When I checked in with Loki about The Morrigan, the sense I got was, “I’m not opposed, but just take your time so you know what you’d be getting into.” When I did a pendulum divination with The Morrigan and told her that I was oathed Loki, she drew back a little–odd how I could feel that–and then there was this kind of sense of “oh, well, maybe a limited contract then.” However, I have no idea what that contract might have entailed.
But then I heard what was happening on the Mauna. I have a long history of (mostly long-distance) allyship with the fight against telescope desecration, and I felt an immediate urge to do what I could to help, even from afar (signal-boosting, blogging, etc.). It was obvious this was not the right time to “get to know” The Morrigan, as her ways of handling conflict are so very different from Kapu Aloha. I could not bring her energy with me if I engaged with this matter. And so I drew back from connecting more with The Morrigan.
But Loki, intense as he is, was fine with my sudden deep plunge into service, once again, with the deities of Hawai’i. I was “standing with Poliahu” and though she hadn’t called me directly, it was important to have that sense of “standing with” her in order to stand with her people. I know this can sound a little mad, but it’s just how it is. And then, after several days of active focus on Mauna Kea, Loki reeled me back,not to prevent any more activity on behalf of Mauna Kea, but to now have me “stand with” him, or to stand with this issue from within standing with him, in solidarity with Mauna Kea, its people and its deities, as a Lokean. Again, it is hard to explain these nuances and I am feeling my way into them.
Loki, who stands for family as well as justice, seems to resonate with this issue of protecting Mauna Kea (personal gnosis). At the very least, he encourages my engagement with it (not that he could actually stop me–he knows I’ve got a prior commitment here).
In practical terms, what does this mean to my practice and my activism? Let me see if I can break it down.
Devotions: Since July 15th or so there’s been a candle on my altar to represent Poliahu and Mauna Kea. And it feels pono (correct, appropriate) to once again chant E Homai as an offering to Hawai’i, to the Mauna, and to honor the work of the Kia’i. My first kumu hula (hula teacher) told me it was always appropriate to offer ka leo, the voice in a prayer or chant. E Homai is my prayer. That chant, and E Laka E, have always had a strong place in my heart.
Decolonizing Paganism: I sense that it’s important to decolonize neopaganism in order to stand appropriately in solidarity, via an inter-faith perspective as well as a human justice one. I’ve been looking at these issues already in witchery and neopaganism, but I cannot congratulate myself on being very advanced. There’s a lot of layers to this deeply planted onion. Loki, as a deity who habitually punctures hypocrisy, seems to require this kind of inner and outer work.
Back to the Lore: I also feel moved to examine the Norse lore again, for stories about Loki which speak to me of challenges to injustice and hypocrisy. Loki bound on the mountain with the entrails of one of his children, while his wife Sigyn holds the bowl to capture snake venom, resonates with me here. Perhaps the hypocrisy and cruelty of the Aesir, when confronted by Loki’s truth-telling, leads me to compare them with the pro-TMT guys. But I think there are deeper meanings than that.
Complementary Values: A general task might be to compare Hawaiian values and those held by neopagan Heathens and others in the “big tent” of modern paganism. Neopagans might find commonality in areas of animism, earth-centered spirituality, polytheism, traditions of hospitality and frith, working with ancestors, keeping oaths and acting in an honorable manner, making offerings to nurture relationships with deities and spirits, and so on.
Things to Avoid: What would be totally inappropriate (IMHO) is anything like sorcery curses on TMT, or the kind of gleeful political trolling that I so adore from The Satanic Temple when directed at U.S. government officials.
No–the imperative for this issue is to be in Kapu Aloha, out of respect for the Kia’i, who absolutely know better than anybody what is needed and what is appropriate. Those of us who are not part of the Lahui (Kanaka Maoli community) MUST take their lead and directions and respect their wishes to the utmost, in spite of any clever ideas we might have to the contrary. It’s not Berkeley over there. And it took me longer than I like to admit to figure that out.
Restraint and Curiosity: Loki, the King of Clever, who got himself into trouble one too many times by mouthing off, is actually quite good at counseling restraint in this case. However, he seems to encourage my curiousity for uncovering some of the hidden machinations surrounding the approval and promotion of the Thirty Meter Telescope. This kind of factual investigation, aimed at the foreign authorities and capitalists who want to control Hawai’i’s resources, is perfectly appropriate as long as it is done with restraint and professionalism.
For me, activism has always been part of my spiritual path and vice versa. The questions I have for and about Loki–and other deities–are tied to my wyrd. That I should have such strong ties to Hawai’i, including mystical experiences, has always been a mystery. That I am one of Loki’s “children” is another. But I am not likely to have the answers until I pass from this world. All I can do is roll with what I’m given to do, here in Midgard.
(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.
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.”
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.
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).
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.
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 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).
“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.
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.
Saturday Breaking News: Hawaiian Homelands agency and the governor reportedly want remove (forcibly) the Kia’i–also access to Mauna Kea is completely denied to all Hawaiians, in violation of the state’s constitution. (Unlawful restrictions have been in place for a long time, actually.)
Update: 642 astronomers have signed the letter protesting the arrest and potential use of force against the kupuna on Mauna Kea. Link here.
The Kia’i (Protectors) of Mauna Kea have established a Pu’uhonua (sacred place of refuge) at Pu’u Huluhulu, across from the Mauna Kea access road. Yesterday the governor of Hawai’i flew to Hilo and met with Hawai’i County mayor, Harry Kim. He did not go to Pu’u Huluhulu and the access road to Mauna Kea to see anything for himself. Instead, he held a press conference of lies and false rumors, designed to discredit the Kia’i and to portray them as lawless, careless, and even criminal. It’s a common racist trope, is it not? This trope is often lobbed at Kanaka Maoli (“native Hawaiians”), whether or not there is even a shred of truth in any given situation.
An additional insult is expressed in the governor’s dissing of the Pu’uhonua itself, and how it–and all the people with it–are held and cared for. This callous insult reveals the depth of Ige’s ignorance and disregard of all matters connected to the Kanaka Maoli and their ‘aina and cultural practices. Sadly, he is not alone in this.
Here is a video of the Kia’i rebuttal to Ige’s lies, in a press conference of their own. It is riveting and thorough. The first speaker is Kaho’okahi Kanuha, who refutes the governor’s lies point by point.
Background: Kapu Aloha and Pu’uhonua
Before I get more into the content of the press conference, I want say more about the concept of a pu’uhonua. The Hawaiian Dictionary (Hawaiian-English/English-Hawaiian) defines pu’uhonua as “(1) Place of refuge, sanctuary, asylum, place of peace and safety” (M.K. Pukui, S.H. Elbert, 1971). Hawai’i island has at least two historical places of refuge, one at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau (now a park) and the other was in Waipio Valley on the north-east side of the island, the site of the Paka`alana Heiau. These are highly sacred places.
In 2018, during the months-long lava flow in Puna, the local community established a pu’uhonua to help those affected by the disaster. While this flow was happening, I spent hours watching live feeds and videos from the island, including footage of people volunteering at this site, and was immensely impressed by the expert community organizing and heart-felt generosity of the entire operation. These same deft community organizing skills are obvious today at Pu’u Huluhulu, where the sacred practice of Kapu Aloha is also foundational. Kapu Aloha encompasses a commitment to peaceful, non-violent action but is so much more. (FYI- Kapu Aloha and organizing skills were also foundational and evident during the long Kia’i encampment on Mauna Kea in 2015-2016, where some of the Kia’i did endure arrests and other acts of aggression and disrespect.)
Here is an article dated July 11, 2019 which contains a press release from HULI (Hawaiʻi Unity and Liberation Institute) and provides a glimpse into how and why keeping Kapu Aloha is intrinsic to the protection of sacred Mauna Kea.
In other words, before stepping into sacred places or ceremonies, you have to get your own self right, internalize the feelings of sacredness and awe, dedicate yourself to appropriate behavior. That’s how it’s done–in almost every spiritual tradition in the world. And the Kia’i are unwavering in their commitments to such traditions.
Puʻu Huluhulu is on Hawaiian Homes Trust Lands and is home to an ahu or alter that was erected in 1999 by the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, a royal society established over 150 years ago by Kamehameha V. This ahu, that sits right at the base of the mauna, was built as a safe place so that kupuna or elders who could not make the trek up to the summit but wanted to acknowledge the mauna in their own way in a sacred space could do so. Puʻu Huluhulu therefore makes for a very relevant and appropriate space for this puʻuhonua and this was at the core of the collaborative efforts that took place today between the kiaʻi and members of the Royal Order.
So, here is clear, precise communication from the Kia’i and everything has been done “right and proper.” At least by the Kia’i. And that’s the whole point–those who are pushing for the desecration of Mauna Kea through the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), are mired in lies and deception. They are profoundly not right, and profoundly not proper.
Does Ige not understand how very serious these sacred places and practices are to the Kia’i? He underestimates the Kia’i, and Kanaka in general, every step of the way. A local guy, born and raised in Hawai’i, the son of “ethnic Japanese Americans of Okinawan descent” (Wikipedia), you’d think he’d know better. Even I, over here in California, can listen to videos and live streams from the Kia’i, and thus can understand at least something of the serious need for respect of these traditions. Why can’t a local governor, with staff and a budget, be better informed and far more truthful and respectful?
Back to the Kia’i Press Conference, July 19, 2019
The Chancellor of the Royal Order of Kamehameha is the second speaker to refute the governor’s press statements. He express his dismay that the governor would lie about drugs and alcohol at Pu’u Huluhula as the Royal Order is playing a 24/7 role in monitoring the safety, security, and appropriateness of behavior at the Pu’uhonua. (I am sorry, I have been trying to find the Chancellor’s name.)
The third speaker is Kumu Hula Paul Neves, also of the Royal Order of Kamehameha. He recounts the story of Ige’s 2015 visit to Mauna Kea, the visit I alluded to in a previous blog. (I had heard it soon after it happened, from Ku Ching, who along with Kumu Neves and one other person, graciously extended the courtesy of taking the governor to pray on the mountain, as requested). After detailing this history, Kumu Neves called strongly for the governor to apologize for slandering the Kia’i, including the ‘opio (youth) and kupuna (elders), and to apologize “to all Hawai’i.” This account, in my opinion, underscores the governor’s inability to “get it right” even when his own previous experiences on the Mauna could have prevented subsequent falsehoods.
Dr. Noenoe Wong-Wilson, one of the kupuna of Mauna Kea, was the fourth speaker. She said that due to the governor’s actions that the kia’i are “still under threat by law enforcement” and that access to Mauna Kea is still denied to the cultural practitioners. Imagine someone blocking the entrance to your church or temple, indefinitely. That’s what it’s like for the Kia’i and other cultural practitioners. And while Ige said he will not ask for additional National Guard (300 are already there), but Dr. Wong-Wilson said that the Kia’i “live in constant fear that they will be assaulted by law enforcement” (many have been flown from other islands). Dr. Wong-Wilson also points out that the governor and other public officials are harrassing companies which supply porta-potties and have not allowed one to be placed near to where the kupuna sit, many of whom use canes and wheelchairs. (Twelve are located across the road, and are paid for by the Kia’i, and are cleaned twice a day.)
FYI: In case you missed it, Gov. Ige declared a “state of emergency” on Thursday and requested the help of the National Guard to deal with a popular, peaceful, non-violent community action which so far has consisted of camping out, volunteering with chores, singing, playing music, doing hula, eating, talking, and enjoying fellowship. Usually states of emergency are reserved for hurricanes and earthquakes… In this case, the “emergency” concerns private corporate interests barging in on Kanaka land via a sub-lease! A friggin’ sublease that shouldn’t even exist, legally. Grrr… Okay, ’nuff said!
A fifth woman, whose name I sadly don’t know also, also pointed out that the state agencies are “quick to build bathroom facilities for the visitor industry” while “their own people, the residents…that descend from this land, the rightful owners of these lands, we have to ask our own government to provide us with bathroom facilities so that we can take care of our kupuna… shame, shame on you!” Dr. Wong-Wilson added that the Kia’i are not asking for the public to pay for the porta-potties–they are bearing the cost and just want to be able to place one closer to where the kupuna are spending their time. Dr. Wong-Wilson also pointed out that the Kia’i have complied with every single health and safety request made by the authorities but when they made this request for an additional “lua” (toilet) for the kupuna, it was denied.
This point is significant as one of the governor’s attempts to discredit the Kia’i is that they are causing “sanitation problems.” In truth, government agencies are causing any problems that could conceivably exist, by refusing reasonable requests and harrassing contractors. (And hey, we could get into the human waste problem caused by astronomy personnel, and mercury contamination of the island’s aquifer, caused by industrial waste from the telescopes… but why let a little thing like inconvenient truths get in the way of Ige’s alternate reality?)
Finally, Kealoha Pisciotta, a long-time activist on behalf of the Mauna, also reminded ,
“Mr. Ige, I was on the mountain with you when you came to pray. We made ho’okupu to offer to the akua, for you. Mr. Ige, it is shame, it is shame what you have done. Na akua, they see you now just as they saw you then. The akua is watching over us. That is why we would never disgrace the pu’uhonua or anywhere here. That is the rule, And you know, you need to remember that Kapu Aloha…requires truth. And now, today, you have no truth. And therefore you have no aloha…You’re hurting our heart and you know what, governor, you grew up here, you’re our family and you know the rules and you broke it today. Pau.”
At the conclusion, Lanakila Manguilaffirmed that “the Kapu Aloha still stands. The Kapu Aloha is to maintain that we all hold ourselves in highest accord, highest conduct. No one here has ever broken that.” Lanakila also described the 24/7 traffic safety system that the Kia’i have created for people crossing the Saddle Road and for vehicles transversing it. This was to counter another “health and safety” lie told by the governor.
Thus concluded the Kia’i press statements as published via YouTube video.
A Live Stream, Video Tour of the Pu’uhonua
But wait, there’s more! Last night, I was watching a live feed of this same press conference (posted by Kāko’o Haleakalā), and so caught the subsequent commentary by Kaleikoa Ka’eo. He spoke of the nature of the leadership, volunteerism, and community spirit at the Pu’uhonua Pu’u Huluhulu. Kaleikoa is an associate professor of Hawaiian Studies, Department of Humanities, at theUH Maui College.
He was clear that the governor was not being truthful about the situation and provided numerous examples to refute Ige’s deceptions. Kaleikoa mentioned the “unsung heroes” at the Pu’uhonua–people working tirelessly to clean, cook, serve food, care for the elders, pass out water, bring hot food up to the mountain and take the trash back down. He said that community support has been “overwhelming” and a lot larger than even he had expected. He comments: “by David Ige saying those things [press conference lies] he’s really dismissing the real aloha work that’s going on in our community–and this is a community–and if you were to come here and see the support…it is amazing.” He invites anyone and everyone to come and see the leadership and unity that exists at the Pu’uhonua.
According to Kaleikoa, Ige’s claims are a “false narrative” and that Ige “doesn’t see the true humanity of who we are.” Kaleikoa pointed out that the whole TMT construction process “has really been one of making our people invisible.” Instead of acknowledging the Kanaka, whose own lands have fed and sheltered Ige’s family for at least a couple of generations, Kaleikoa says that Ige’s “eyes and his heart turn to protect the interests of foreign nationals.” Ige courts foreign power elites rather than acknowledge Kanaka Maoli as “true real human beings that still exist to this day” in their own lands. I interpret this as a mindset that allows Ige to conveniently (for him) dismiss the rights and claims of Kanaka Maoli, even those left to them in the “state” constitution.
Kaleikoa then gave a tour, showing the impressive cleanliness and streamlined nature of the entire operation. Talk about unity and leadership! Not to mention collaborative community spirit! And walking the walk… and all kinds of good things like that.
Not only are drugs and alcohol prohibited, but cigarettes are prohibited too. THAT’S how serious the Kia’i are about maintaining health and safety. The Pu’uhonua is extremely safe and sanitary, and of course family-friendly (lots of kids). There was no garbage or debris in sight. The Pu’uhonua has a system to sort and remove garbage, recyclables, and compost. I saw the traffic and pedestrian safety control methods in action, including lights, traffic monitors, etc. I think it is safe to say that this intersection is the only place in all Hawai’i that is monitored for safety 24/7. There was an array of twelve, well-maintained porta-potties, the medical tent, information tent, volunteer coordination table, coconut donation table, the Royal Order members who circulate among the Pu’uhonua, a huge amount of food, and so forth.
Honestly, I have never, ever seen a large gathering (from several hundreds to over two thousand) managed with so much efficiency, love, dedication, consideration, and over-all community spirit. As a disaster prep geek, who took Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) twice–the second time in Kea’au (2016)–this footage made me want to weep with joy. I know–I know–that this kind of skill set and attitude is in short supply in most communities here on the continent.
On a personal note, I have followed the Mauna Kea/Stop TMT issues for well over a decade, thanks to a long-term partnership (now ended) with one of original Kia’i, a kupuna involved in the court cases that halted work on the TMT, time and time again. Thanks to this relationship, I had an intimate “ring-side seat” even though I was thousands of miles away most of the time. I have been well schooled and well informed, and because I also use my own eyes and ears, I have seen how Kanaka Maoli rights and interests–and humanity–have been on the chopping block since day one of the TMT debacle. And though I’ve since broken up with the man involved, I never broke up with the Mauna. Back in California, I’ve still kept my antenna up for developments. My heart has been with this struggle for a long, long time. And so it is in that spirit that I am blogging and signal boosting at this time.
And hey, apparently TMT project manager, Gary Sanders, is perfectly willing to build the durn thing in the Canary Islands instead. Won’t you politely give him a call at (626)395-2997 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know–again, politely–that Kanaka Maoli and many in the rest of the world would be so happy if the telescope didn’t desecrate Mauna Kea.
Please help. Read, signal boost, write letters, send money for bail for the kupuna who were arrested. Whatever you can! Thank you!
July 19, 2019 — Sent via email to the Governor’s office concerning his threat to use force against the Kia’i, Protectors of Mauna Kea.
Dear Governor Ige,
As a frequent visitor to Hawai’i for twenty years, as well as a former resident of Hawai’i Island, I must say that the entire manner in which you and your office are handling the matter of Mauna Kea–from approvals which spurn common sense and decency to the recent declaration of emergency and threat of force made to the Kia’i– is extremely disturbing and inappropriate, to say the least. I will not come back and spend tourist dollars in such a place.
I take also take note of District 5 Councilmember Matt Kaneali`i-Kleinfelder’s concerns about the impact of your decision to declare a state of emergency on July 17, 2019. And I take note too of the valid points raised by 200 astronomers who are protesting the arrests of kupuna, and who are questioning the premises behind the construction of TMT on sacred Hawaiian land. There is a whiff of corruption as well as the ugliness of violence in how the State of Hawai’i, led by your office, is handling this matter.
I happen to know that several years ago, you visited the mountain in the company of two elders who were involved with the contested case hearings. At the time, they had hopes that you “got” the spiritual nature of the mountain, as well as the quest to preserve it. Sadly, those hopes were soon shattered.
The world is watching, Governor Ige, and what you do now sets Hawai’i on a path that even moneyed interests such as TMT and its partners might regret later.
The Kia’i have been peaceful, cooperative, and graceful in their interactions with the police. There is no need to declare a “state of emergency” or marshal forces which are costly and potentially violent.
In addition, I wonder why you are not upholding the state law against desecraction, or why you refuse to admit that public outrage against the proposed TMT construction on Mauna Kea meets the criteria for determining that desecration is taking place? Section 2) is quite clear on this. If you stand for upholding state law, why are you not upholding this one?
§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]
Please correct your course and navigate by some other star than the fell one that motivates you at present.