Monday, November 05, 2007


Monday morning in Hawaii

by Larry Geller

Lightning flashed briefly last night. Our lights  only dimmed a few times but we could see nearby streets disappear into blackness as power failed around us. That's not unusual for a heavy tropical rainstorm in Hawaii. We have lots of overhead electric wires, an invitation for power failures.

Checking the web for a weather forecast this morning, I found this one:

The winter weather advisory means periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause traffic difficulties with slippery conditions. [Snow falling on Big Island summits - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper ]

No, hell isn't freezing over. Although this reads like a typical Manhattan winter weather forecast, it is actually for the summits on the island of Hawaii.

Sleet and freezing rain aren't too pleasant for the moment, but one day soon there will be snow up there. It will again be possible to go skiing, ride down the mountain on your bike, and then have a swim in the warm tropical ocean. All in the same day and without getting on an airplane.

Hawaii is a magic place, and I want to appreciate all the folks on Neighbor Islands who are fighting to preserve it. Really. I think the ongoing Superferry controversy has raised my consciousness. If we are not vigilant, these islands will look more and more like Des Moines with water. One thing after another will chomp away at the natural beauty, and yes, the isolation, that makes much of Hawaii still worth living in, or visiting, for that matter.

Hawaii is a great place for conferences and meetings. Two notable events took place over the weekend. The first made the papers, the second was almost a secret.

Public revelations of "Dog" Chapman's typical daily language have probably cost him his TV program and may cost him book sales as well (or could the scandal actually boost sales?). A community forum  was held Sunday on the subject. From the Star-Bulletin article:

About 100 residents of mixed ethnicity expressed their anger, frustration and hope to end racism yesterday during an informal forum on race relations in response to Duane "Dog" Chapman's racist tirade caught on tape.


The Rev. Dwight Cook, minister of Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, told the crowd that he felt Chapman ought to undergo sensitivity training.

"Everybody has to become a part of making this community a better place, and it does start with education," he said.

Jewel McDonald, president of the African American Association of Hawaii, said Chapman should be reduced from a "hero to a zero."

The consensus of the forum was that racism against blacks and other races persists in Hawaii, though it is not as blatant as on the mainland.

"They give you the impression everything is sweet here. 'It's the melting pot so everything is just lovely.' But it's not," she said.

Yeah, it may hurt to read it, but this is reality, not TV.

The conference that didn't make the news was the First Global Nonkilling Leadership Forum, held in Honolulu from Nov. 1-4, 2007. This was organized by Prof. Glenn Paige, whose book on the subject, Nonkilling Global Political Science, is available in bookstores or can be downloaded in English here.

Although most people will not have encountered the word "nonkilling," it is very much a part of global peace research vernacular. A Google search will turn up enough hits to bring you up to date.

One of the program co-chairs was Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire (who was awarded the prize along with Betty Williams for uniting long warring factions, the Catholics and Protestants, in Northern Ireland).

Professor Johan Galtung, who taught at the University of Hawaii and now heads the international Transcend organization, came to Hawaii to attend. It was a truly awesome undertaking, bringing together political science and peace studies leaders from many countries. From North and South America, from Asia, from South Asia, from everywhere they came. No report is yet in the papers. I saw video cameras, so perhaps something will come out on this later.

at Mu Ryang Sa Buddhist Temple The event filled the main hall at the Mu Ryang Sa Buddhist Temple, another example of the magic that is Hawaii. There are places of worship established here from so many different religions that you just have to believe the very ground is sacred.



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