The Frontlines of Ideology: Kapu Aloha For The World

 UH West Oahu

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Let us immerse ourselves with the “frontlines of ideology” over the summit of a sacred mountain, where a standoff has brought forth the dilemma of many truths; Mauna Kea Access Road. Through the court system and in the physical presence of the raw elements of nature at 6,608 ft above sea level (Johnson), where the weather blisters and burns from either the heat or the frigid winds that have a tendency to scrape the soul, Hawaiian legitimacy over their land is once again being made crystal clear.  According to the primary local Hawaiian organizations who are making the effort to educate the public, the standoff that was reignited in July 2019 (Big Island News Now) has been going on for 50 years ( The reemergence of Hawaiian ethnic identity is in part credit to the last Royal Monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Queen Liliuokalani (Liliuokalani). The Monarchs preceding Her Majesty made ready the proceeding generations to confront the expansion of industrialization that was inevitable. 

The task of diverting the flow of focus and priority from one complexity to another is an existential runaround that indigenous people around the world have had to undergo for centuries. Currently, the United States’ democratic process is misfiring (Radu). In Hawaii, the Thirty-Meter-Telescope stands by for its groundbreaking which is the basis for the conflict. Again an embodied Oceanic people hold steadfast, true to the message. Hawaii plays a specific role as the geo-strategic epicenter of the pacific. Many people who arrive at Hawaii’s sacred shoals feel called to be here. Of the millions of people that come here every year (Shaefers), not many make a significant connection to the aboriginal inhabitants who exist on this fortress of perpetual paradise. As international visitors come and go, they do not always pay attention to the fact that Hawaiians exist. People who acknowledge Polynesian culture find that Hawaii and the entirety of Oceanic peoples have so much to offer the world. The implication that is made clear by many genuine Hawaiians is that a variety of problems have found their way to these island jewels. As we begin to navigate the differential between ideologies and to be of best service to our inalienable rights, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, we must acknowledge Hawaiian culture as determined by cultural practitioners. Hawaiian roots are separate from the United States. The establishment of Kapu Aloha at Mauna Kea Access Road as observed through a globalization theory critical lens exemplifies Hawaiian traditional knowledge as an avenue to advance the means for practical and compassionate, meta-perspectival democracy for the world. This has profound implications because it could be argued that Kapu Aloha could completely alter the entire geopolitical arena of the “free market.” Historical references, literary work, and government policy provide context that no credible argument exists to challenge Hawaiian right to self rule at Mauna Kea and over their territory, or Pae Aina.

 Kia’i in Hawaiian means guardian, protectors of Mauna Kea which to Hawaiians is a Sacred Mountain. Kapu can be translated a few different ways. To make something Kapu means to make it taboo, prohibited, sanctified, consecrated, or forbidden (Na Puke Wehewehe). Kapu Aloha is a variation of an ancient Hawaiian defense posture meant to protect the homefront, keeping negativity, greed, and hatred out of a space as prescribed by Hawaiian cultural practitioners (‘Oiwi Tv). To abide by Kapu Aloha is to follow the rule of law inherently set to keep the peace and protect everything that falls within reach of its bounds. Aloha is a mutual acknowledgment of Love for Creation, the life we breathe and that breathes through all living things; Aloha extends beyond the phenomenon known in science as cellular respiration. Aloha is the compass of a wayfinding people who were the first to complete the exploration of the greatest oceanic body, the Pacific. 

    The political debacle of what is happening at Mauna Kea serves as an example of what is currently occurring in the global financial markets and political arenas. In the oral tradition, the historical reference of the culture here in Hawaii extends beyond a tidal flood that decimated the population of these islands to a time described as the “Darkness of Antiquity” (Namakaokeahi), and into darkness itself, Po (Beckwith). It is into this very idea of origin that the Thirty Meter Telescope means to extend its reach. This is the proposed project that has caused waves of a flashpoint feud, establishing three camps between local Hawaiians, non-traditional Hawaiians, and non-Hawaiians. It is declared that enough is enough be it that Mauna Kea is part of their creation story. The intended audience of this analysis would include any member of the three camps of the debate and is presented from the perspective of a third party “non-Hawaiian” observer. Since western contact in Hawaii, one thing has led to another, whereas, from the discovery by Captain Cook (Editors of Britannica), to the illegal occupation of the Kingdom of Hawaii by way of forceful capture of Queen Liliokalani in 1893 (, the dynamic between worlds is parallel to the 1890 Massacre at Wounded Knee (Editors of Britannica).

The captured image that is the focus of this analysis does well to exemplify what is happening on Mauna Kea. It depicts two separate ideological worldviews. To the left, in the foreground are two men in uniform that represent US jurisdiction, one belonging to the DLNR and the other to the US Army. On the right pacing forward is a young Hawaiian man wearing the blue “Kapu Aloha” t-shirt. In comparison, his T-shirt designates him as an enforcement officer by the authority of the organized local Hawaiian-led movement for their right to self-rule. Kapu Aloha is a kupuna, or Hawaiian Elder, inspired, activation of righteous and compassionate means to resolution (Oiwi TV). After dedicated time observing and gaining a deeper understanding of the topic, Kapu Aloha could be described as a behavior pattern that exhibits mannerisms compared to exchanging “thank you, but no thank you” over a dispute. At its core, Kapu Aloha offers Hawaiians the legitimacy of self-determination. It could be argued that this idea is highly politically charged, but you would find that Hawaiians do not share this range of interpreting their own culture. The contrast is simple, whereas the reclaiming agency by the Hawaiian people directly challenges the existence of the United States in Hawaii, therefore control of the Hawaiian territory and the entire Pacific falls into question. On either side of the spectrum of discourse, a root cause analysis of the reasons for the separation falls on the legal implications that are well documented (Brestovansky). What has gone on in Hawaii has had an effect on its people and has altered the course of humanity, putting a mark on this planet that is difficult to understand. For this reason, a globalization theory critical lens (Bohman, 4.) is used for the analysis of the implications of the captured photo. 

In order to give credit to the opportunities for collaborative improvement that this conflict presents, it is necessary to unpack the vestiges of differentiating elements that created the conditions that have put well-intended people at odds with each other in the first place. The primary objective of analyzing the precursors to the imminent threat of violence (Ke Kumu Pali)  on Hawaii’s sacred mountain is to evaluate the justification for local Hawaiian governance and find the necessary adjustments towards a practical and compassionate resolution moving forward. To better serve this point it is important to first detail a fundamental understanding of the local capacity for democratic governance and elaborate the necessary steps to proceed under a more appropriate “Kapu Aloha” management. Arguments in the community in favor of the telescope often declare that Hawaiian management is not capable of managing their own land and water resource rights yet the effectiveness of the ancient practices show evidence of being a high performance functioning early democracy according to the high caloric output capacity by way of the application of culturally aligned resource practices (Kurashima).  In the process of defining democracy, it is observed that the conditions of early democratic governance dynamics have been independently formulated in societies around the world, be it that the underlying basis for democracy is that centralized council formations require the consent of a greater population for their decision making capacities (Ahmed, 502). Members of these council structures in return offer guidance to their respective populations in their responsibility of sending and receiving information (Ahmed, 502), as well as they, carry an internal duty of being committed to one another for sake of maintaining their unified efforts (Ahmed, 507). A positive correlation exists between the presence of these council structures and caloric variables, wherein the evidence suggests that the presence of council leadership induces greater caloric output in a given society (Ahmed, 511). Variations in council formation include central versus local structures (Ahmed, 504) and alternative bureaucratic control strategies which inversely accumulate localized knowledge about the production (Ahmed, 516).

    In our modern era, geographic specifications in land use regulations provide variables in a greater order of magnitude that generates the conditions of societal segregation, inequality, and poverty (Trounstine, 443); such is thus, the task becomes maintaining the legitimacy of council continuity in order to prevent the stagnation of intergenerational immobility (Trounstine, 444). Best practices require organized leadership to exist in cultural alignment (Riley, 531). An appropriately aligned governing structure for Hawaii is presented in Kapu Aloha. In Hawaii, local Hawaiian leadership must sit as the foremost leaders of governance structures that control the local resources. Other examples of appropriate Hawaiian leadership include Kupuna Councils (Papa Ola Lokahi) and the Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands Beneficiary Associations (US Department of the Interior). At times, compassionate democracy may seem difficult but it is possible. As such, there is no credible argument that can justify the injustice of political ambiguity. 

    Globalized expansion retains a fair number of criticized attributes where “national and global levels represent at best, inconclusive, at worst weak analytical foundations in providing explanatory and policy guidance in developing country contexts” (Perry, 407). Local vs global markets are not often in alignment with each other as is represented by local vs global consumer demand (Mandler). In order to advance a unified and appropriately aligned governing body, the necessary diffusion of innovation and information must be configured to local economic specifications, thus situating a standard of improved productivity (Kitson, 303). Furthermore, the collaborative transformation of coordinated design functions is dependent on stable policies and institutions that enhance long term societal resilience (Kitson, 311).

    A compassionate democracy requires that we evaluate the inefficiencies of existing democratic structures, deconstruct what no longer serves, renovation and rejuvenation, application of an updated contingency plan, and a formalized trial and error standard operating procedure for maintaining self-sufficiency and resilience. Practical and meta-perspectival tools provide the means for radical inclusion and ease of access to information and communication necessary to appropriately dispatch and distribute resource management task orders and resolve metaphysical disputes (James, 23). For example, Loomio is a democratizing tool for self-organizing communities. This platform is inspired by cumulative cultural evolution and has facilitated up to 20,000 groups making close to 30,000 decisions around the world (Knight).  

As the elder leadership of the current Kapu Aloha movement launch the call to act, classic and advanced crowd control methods are a known threat if confronted by oppositional enforcement authorities that maneuver in support of the building of the Thirty-Meter-Telescope. The community’s basic needs are often lacking and their rights infringed upon, demanding yet again that enough is enough. They demand better. The feud has now spilled over on the island of Oahu where two other issues have caused the local independently organized groups to implement the Kapu Aloha posture; the proposed athletic field project at Sherwoods, Waimanalo (Lincoln), and the face-off over an electric wind farm in Kahuku (Richardson). The condition of a stalemate continues and the community remains divided. In the spirit of the lives lost at Kaho’olawe, through the Oceanic revival and resilience of persevering will of over a century (Morse), this transition is expected to continue, or Imua.


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