A REFLECTION ON MAUNA KEA Kim Alailima September 14, 2019
Today, as we approach International Peace and Non-Violence week, I was honored to be on Mauna Kea.
I have heard those speak on behalf of science through the construction of a new, 18 story telescope on Mauna Kea. I have heard those speak for the preservation of land, Hawaiian identity and sacred space, likening the telescope construction to the desecration of holy sites such as Arlington Cemetery, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem or St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
I/we went to listen, learn and restore relationships as part of the Hawaii District United Methodist Church’s “Acts of Repentance” Task Force, who brought an Apology Resolution for the Church’s role in the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893.
The community at Mauna Kea is continuing the revival, teaching and practicing of Hawaiian language, oli (chants), hula, and cultural understanding that was once prohibited. It was moving to see both young and old chanting and dancing as one. The flow and meaning of the Hawaiian language spoken in unity was a powerful and beautiful thing.
The Protectors of Mauna Kea were gracious and welcoming to us, from our first oli, through the presentation of gifts and the Samoan ifoga (“the bowing” – a communal practice of seeking forgiveness and reconciliation). Each Kupuna individually greeted, thanked and blessed us through the honi (Polynesian greeting of touching foreheads and exchanging breath – a sacred reminder of our interconnectedness).
The Protectors of Mauna Kea are committed to “Kapu Aloha”, practicing non-violence and righteousness towards every one, even the law enforcement that may be called to act against them, as they protect land that is sacred in its physicality and spiritual significance. I was reminded, as I listened to various speeches, of the non-violent, transformation seeking examples of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. (“We shall not be moved!”), and Queen Lili’uokalani herself.
May those acting on the wishes of the local government, TMT and other financial interests recognize the dignified way the Protectors are treating the Aina and all who come to the Mauna. May they refrain from using tactics usually reserved for rioters or military combatants and see the stance of non-violent resistance for what it is.
May we remember the deep observation and respect the Hawaiian navigators, especially, had for the stars, and find a way to treasure righteous relationships AND the study of our miraculous universe.
May we see the issue of Mauna Kea as one of many opportunities to affirm connection, seek reconciliation and practice Kapu Aloha.