Posts Tagged ‘Queen Liliuokalani’


Saturday, November 6th, 2010
 Transcendent Realism

Transcendent Realism

idealism |īˈdē(ə)ˌlizəm|
1 the practice of forming or pursuing ideals, esp. unrealistically : the idealism of youth. Compare with realism .
• (in art or literature) the representation of things in ideal or idealized form. Often contrasted with realism (sense 2).

We all judge everything and everybody. We really do. It is in our nature as independent beings which, due to our manifest destiny, were created to be able to function autonomously.

My perspective on life is very Ocean Centric. It is in my DNA,  in the ancestry from which I descended, and is a part of the heritage I leave the world through my work.

We live in a fascinating time, where information is abundantly available and connection between other autonomous beings occurs at light speed.

There are up sides, and down sides to that. For me, the up side is that you can see in very short order when you are being inspired and coaxed on to greater things, or being conned or lied to.  So this new light is bringing into cultural fashion a modern idealism that may not be founded on much else, aside from the author’s point of view. It brings us to someplace special: the crossroad of choice. And it does so with greater rapidity than ever before in human history.

The following piece was sent to me in response to the prior blog on Ethics. It was written by my cousin and describes the affect of our Grandfather, John Kalani Puu, and our last Queen, Liliuokalani on our Ohana. In this document, is the historic perspective from which I speak.

It explains the Hawaiian vista on life, love and the seas. It is my perspective as a Native, who chose to be an American. My Grandfather and I share that choice. We all choose to be here.

We are guaranteed choice as Americans. It is the tenet of Liberty which allows for that. What is yours? Do you have a cause or sabre that you rattle?

Hawaiians do. We belong to our land and Ocean. It is who we are.

Do you know who you are?

Want to?

Meet the Ocean.

Here is a prime example of how we think, in a story about Duane Desoto and Na Kama Kai.

Princess Pake

Princess Pake

Idealists and Realists

By Gayle Puu

Long after my grandfather died, a nephew recorded memories of earlier generations that he read to the “tribe” at a family reunion in August 1979.  I did not attend this reunion, but I remember hearing at the time that my grandmother didn’t agree with all of Harry Kim’s family history.  Another twenty-five years past before I actually read his words after taking custody of old newspaper clippings, photographs and assorted family papers my mother had saved over the years.  For my grandfather, he had written:

“Then came Uncle Puu, known as John Kalani Puu, ‘the maestro of music, an entertainer, actor, producer, artist, dancer, and above all idealistic and kind-hearted.’”

I knew my grandfather as a musician, entertainer and artist and as a kind-hearted man, but I had never before thought of him as idealistic.  And I couldn’t help but wonder why Harry Kim bracketed most of his description of my grandfather with quotation marks: Had someone other than this nephew noticed Grandpa’s idealistic tendencies?  Who was this person?  What did he or she mean?  Did Harry Kim mean the same thing? Was this description of Grandpa in the family history something that Grandma didn’t agree with?

I’ll never know the answers to these questions, but I can reflect on another important question: Why was I surprised by the association of the word “idealistic” with my grandfather?  To me, and a dictionary, an idealistic man forms his ideals and lives his life accordingly; or, he is a man who tends to see things as they should be, not as they really are.  Either way, an idealistic man pursues something that exists only in his mind, something imaginary, something lacking practicality.  Does this describe my grandfather?  To me, he is a practical man  who loved his family, God, his native islands and the Good Ol’ US of A.  And there is nothing unusual, or imaginary, or out of touch with reality in this list of Grandpa’s main attributes.

In all fairness, my grandfather’s life needs context as well as dictionary meaning.   A native Hawaiian, he was four years old when American annexationists, intent on protecting their business interests in the Kingdom of Hawaii, overthrew the monarchy to establish their own provisional government and, ultimately, annexation to the United States of America.  Grandpa was too young at the time to know that Queen Lili’uokalani surrendered her sovereignty to the United States, not the revolutionaries, believing that American justice would eventually restore her throne.  In her mind, once the real facts were known in Washington D.C., the United States government would align with her position and restore her power.  Her surrender of sovereignty was tactical, made under protest, and intended to save both her kingdom and the lives of her people.  The Queen knew she couldn’t out gun the Americans with military presence in her harbor, but she believed in American ideals and in American and international law.  She knew she could prove that the majority of native Hawaiians didn’t want to be annexed by the United States, and the consent of her people was prerequisite to annexation.

She was right.  The Blount Commission said she was right, and recommended restoration of her sovereignty.  President Cleveland said she was right, and recommended restoration of her sovereignty.  The Provisional Government in Honolulu, however, refused to honor either recommendation.  The U.S. Congress backed the annexationists: the Spanish American War made Hawaii’s strategic military location in the Pacific Ocean far too attractive for laws or ideals to stand in the way of American expansion.  Hawaii became a Republic, then a U.S. Territory.

President Grover Cleveland’s message to Congress delivered on December 18, 1893 made it clear that he was “ashamed of the whole affair.”  Queen Liliuokalani never stopped believing that sovereignty, illegally seized from her and her people, would eventually be restored.  They were idealists.

Nonetheless, my native Hawaiian grandfather was a proud American.  He was also talented and adventurous, traveling as a Hawaiian entertainer in Asia and continental United States during the early decades of the twentieth century.  He married a Kansan, in Kansas, and raised his family in Hawaii.  He sent his three oldest sons to fight for their country in World War II, and his youngest to the Korean conflict.  He worked hard.  He lived frugally.  He was law abiding and church going.  He was politically active.  He was a forward thinker.  Progressive.  And he wanted his children and grandchildren to live the American dream.

In the eyes of his Hawaiian extended family, did this make him idealistic?  Perhaps.  Several of his relatives had signed the anti-annexation petitions that were delivered to the U.S Congress, and they might have passed on their resistance to annexation, something that didn’t stick to Grandpa.  Perhaps his family didn’t like the path he chose as a young man and his desire to assimilate into American culture.  Perhaps they were annoyed with his choice of wife, a woman born on the American mainland, someone unlike themselves in race and upbringing.  Perhaps they resented my grandfather’s creative talents that endeared him to both native and adopted cultures.  Perhaps they misunderstood his connection to the present without abandoning his past.  Perhaps change was more of a struggle for them than for him.

But is it fair to characterize my grandfather as idealistic for choosing to be the best American a Hawaiian born native could be after annexation?  Not to me.  Grandpa knew what he wanted and how to achieve his goals.  He was able to find common ground, dig in his heels and hold his place in the world.  The word “realistic” more accurately describes the grandfather I know.  Given dictionary meaning, a realistic man is someone with the disposition to face facts and to deal with them practically.  And in context, a realistic man is someone who lives his life in the present.  Indeed, my grandfather was a realist.

Hawaiian Cultural Theory

Hawaiian Cultural Theory

Here is a performance of the Kumilipo, the Hawaiian Creation Chant translated by Queen Liliuokalani which is referred to in my cousin’s story, and in the prior blog. It was filmed at Anahouli Bay on the Big Island. The chanter is from the Waikoloa Halau, and is Chadwick Yap-Lim. This was the ancestral home of my family, so getting to  witness this was a great example for myself and crew of how in Hawaii, our ancestors are still with us in ways that modern culture does not get to experience often.

This performance of Aloha Oe is special, as my Grandmother was a Caucasian hula dancer. My Grandfather,  Hawaiian. You can see the difference. But they complement each other as the song and life passes. Strange finding this analogous piece.

Andy Irons just passed. A Caucasian man. Andy is as Hawaiian as it gets. This story says a lot. I will miss him. Aloha Oe, a hui ho my brother. Many mahalos. Tears fall for you and your family. But you know that.

A white man, Hawaiian? He made that choice when he married the ocean and the tenets of the tribe and Hawaiian people. That is how one becomes a part of any Nation. (It does go both ways.) So maybe not by blood, but by salt water. Funny how similar those two substances are.

Lydia Puu

John Kalani Puu

So consider that all of this heritage and history exists, in a culture of Ocean stewards who take great exception to a disconnected entity deciding what our right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness should look like. We were there ages before you. This is our home. We let you take it, while trusting in the preeminent rule by law of the United States. We share it and our traditions. Aloha is more than a word. It is a spiritual concept.

Leave our ocean alone. We will defend her, and our rights, which cost Hawaii so much to acquire. We share it. Not vice- versa.

Here is a very Hawaii centic film I did awhile ago. Liquid Psalms.

Ethics in Environmentalism, Citizenship and Stewardship

Monday, October 25th, 2010
A New Wave to Wipe You Out

A New Wave to Wipe You Out

A new wave is breaking.

There has been a lot of change afoot for me, and there were a few things I had been avoiding acting on.  Those subjects called for much research and thought. They have been on my plate repeatedly lately.

In one circumstance, I had to take a close look at an environmental group which some friends had created many years ago, for the purpose of preserving beach and ocean access. The group, Surfrider Foundation, has done an amazing amount of good work, and I have assisted it by various means, since its inception in the mid 80s.

The past several years have seen me sort of look the other way, (after I was politely ignored) in pointing out what I thought to be some rather serious misdeeds. I won’t get into those, because that is unfair.  I simply disagreed with the circumstances and events, which I was cognizant of having occurred.

After much consideration (months) I penned a manifesto of sorts and circulated it amongst my friends and colleagues, which may make me “the enemy” in their eyes. I dislike hurting people. So I tend to be very slow to act on some things. But that tenet (distaste for inflicting harm) just came back and forced me to do and say something. Many of these people are life long friends and confidants. I wanted, no, needed, to be clear.

Surfrider has joined with a Govt agency (NOAA)  and implemented actions which I see as completely opposite of those it started out with.

Here are two separate links from SR’s websites. They explain in the organization’s own words, a bit more regarding a current trend they are engaged in.

In fact, this is being endorsed by the President. Here is the link.

It reads as something good. It is not. If you believe it is, then you may want to consider that both the MMS and EPA (Govt agencies) were in charge of regulating the drilling projects on the Gulf Coast. I am assuming you now know the part they played in contributing to the disaster, and assisting in it, with the implementation of massive usage of Corexit. Some call it the “crime of the century”.

I disagree with assisting in this. On every level. Hence this blog. The ocean is something I take very personally, as I do regarding my obligations to my friends.

Keep in mind that I was right there when this group started, and have supported them in various ways throughout the years. That is a lot of support, and a lot of years.

I realized,  what has been quietly eating at my insides, is that what I do requires me to listen to everybody. When, as a result of listening, a situation arises that forces me to actually DO something, I am no longer a Photographer or Journalist. I have become something else. It is very uncomfortable for me, and I hate how it makes me feel. But to say and do nothing instead, is amoral when one believes a wrong is being committed against innocents. What is being acted on now by our Government, and being promoted by the Environmental Community, will alter the rights and freedoms of all future generations of ocean users.

Often, change and ethics shifts occur in the merest of increments, and one does not realize the ship has actually turned around and is heading the wrong way.

After many years of  informal efforts to input the process, I have found that the group is determined to keep people out of the ocean. Something I want no part of, in any way.

They believe it is for the good of the ocean. It may be.

Below is an excerpt from the manifesto which I sent to my editors, close friends and colleagues in August of 2010.

“My position basically, is that I want no Government regulation of my access to the Ocean or any of my activities in it, when those activities are already thoughtful, informed and benign, long term.

I believe that if you think Government is here to help the environment, that you are seriously misinformed. If you look closely at the recent episode in the Gulf, it points at exactly what one needs to realize: The system is not working. When something is broken, you do not give it more responsibility, weight and money. You stop.

As someone who has worked with the regulatory control system in the development of laws and regulations for industry in California, I think that this entire movement, to place a relatively healthy ocean under increased lockdown to the public, is a sham. It is regulating and controlling the wrong thing: YOU.

When organizations such as Surfrider were formed, it was written into the charter that they existed to preserve beach and ocean access. Someone may have rewritten the charter, as SR is now not only endorsing the MLPA, but has worked with NOAA to implement public access sanctions behind the scenes. One need only look as far as the banning of PWC’s in the Monterey Bay Santuary.

Here is another revealing link to a piece published by the San Luis Chapter of Surfrider. I am going to point out here, that they agree with surf rescue usage of PWC’s , but as this rule is applied in real life, the rescue community is NOT allowed to train or practice anywhere in the Santuary nor will be.  So the liability for the people behind the legislation should someone die as a result, is rather high. I will not bother to point out every one of a huge number of inaccuracies in the document as arguing is pointless at this time. I am done trying to push the square peg of reason into the round hole of prejudice and prurient interest

Modern Day OutlawModern Day Outlaw

It is my position that the current path in implementation of the MPLA and other future acts, are going to violate all of our Constitutional Rights, and in the long run take away the freedoms many of you have enjoyed as an ocean going clan.

As a native, and as an American, I urge you, fellow leaders of your own groups and tribes, to do your own research and make up your own minds on the correct course of action for your groups and your families. That you study and not blindly follow, is the only way any of this will ever change.”

What Aloha Actually Says

What Aloha Actually Says

The Kumulipo. The reason this Hawaiian will not surrender his Ocean.

Here is the historic background to the Kumilipo.

If you think Government agencies like the MMS and EPA are efficient and good representatives of your group,  great,  fall in. I do not see it that way, based on my experiences in industry, as a waterman, a member of the Rescue Community, and a conscientious, sentient human being.

I cannot, in good conscience, endorse something I believe to be wrong on so many levels.

I believe we are at the edge of the dawn of a new era, and that it looks like more low benefit to high cost modus, which may cost future generations access to the beaches and oceans. Benefits? Yes there are some. Just not for you.

My answer is a simple “no”.

Below is a gallery of every day ocean activities. I endeavored to inject some History in the edit.  Some of these may become “illegal” soon. Some already are, in places where the MLPA has been implemented.

I anticipate Civil Rights violation lawsuits to arise. Dawn of a new age, where you will need legal representation to enforce your “inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Do those words sound familiar?

Every Ocean user and American needs to read this carefully. You will be stunned. I was. This is in it and is a reference to what tyranny our forefathers fled in coming to America. I was stunned.  There it was. History repeating.

“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

Does that describe something familiar?

Agenda 21. What we see is possibly attributable to this.

The Story of STUFF. Informative enlightenment, in an entertaining albeit alarming story.

This is how we fix things. A related blog post by Seth Godin

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.