As a matter of fact, as a matter of principle, as a matter of Native Hawaiian cultural authenticity - 'Iokepa Hanalei 'Imaikalani does not point fingers. Better to assume responsibility than to blame As a matter of fact, as a matter of taste - he does not plaster our cars with bumper stickers. He believes that actions, not advertised opinions, speak louder than words. And yet, he is about to make an exception.
Affixed to our 1998, Subaru station wagon'sbumper (and we hope to the bumpers of our supporters on Island and around the world) is the pictured message.
'Iokepa explains its meaning: "Living on Earth is the gift. Responsibility is the practice."
Ourselves is the key word here. We accuse no one. We exclude no one. We are each responsible; we're all deserving.
So many years ago when a local Kaua'i woman was brutally molested and murdered (a rare act of violence on our tiny Island), and the next day's newspaper labelled our friend a "homeless alcoholic" and our acquaintance "the Westside Slayer, 'Iokepa loudly objected to the dehumanizing labels.
He reminded each of us on this Island in the middle of the Pacific: "I am at fault; Inette is at fault; you are..." He reminded us that "our community had failed both" - the murdered and the murderer. That is the Native Hawaiian culture speaking.
Four years ago, now, when an extremely inebriated young man (four hours out of prison), rounded a corner on a country road in California at 80 miles per ours in a 40 mile speed zone - demolished our car; ended our book tour; and trashed my body and mind for the next year - 'Iokepa told the local newspaper reporter: "Without a culture or a sense of belonging to the community, people act out. The foundation of a community is a healthy people. For thousands of years, tribes have taken responsibility for each person in the tribe, and helped heal those who were struggling."
We visited the young man in jail, befriended him in later years, and watched with satisfaction as he turned his life around. We are all responsible.
"My Islands are dying," 'Iokepa has said with neither exaggeration nor embellishment. "My people are dying. The ocean that feeds us is dying."
Fingers point; accusations are hurled; even good people sometimes look for blame. But 'Iokepa sees it differently. He exempts no one from our caring community (which extends to the continental United States and well-beyond). The responsibility, he knows, is his own - is our own.
So when a bright, charming, and successful bookstore owner in (of all places) Atlanta, Georgia - a woman whose heart extends well-beyond the limits of her own personal interests - suggested a bumper sticker that said, "Save Hawai'i From Ourselves," we both lit up, filed it away for some future date, and then realized these many years later, that the date is today. So thank you Candace Apple.
We offer the gift to you. On Island or not, we'd be delighted to mail you a bumper sticker. If you're able, help us with the cost of postage and padded envelope, but we'll send it regardless. Just let us know.