Showing posts from February, 2014

Na Kupuna, The Holy Spirit, and Ahimsa

Today us the kind of day that shortens my life by five years; that parches my skin and carves the jagged lines around my eyebrows and mouth deeper into a scowl; that makes me want to escape or run or fight. Or write.
So right or wrong, I need to write it out.
Yesterday I read the Ramayana to my students. I have a short graphic novel version, and the kids got all swept up the the grand drama of princes, princesses, gods, goddesses, demons, gurus, bears, and monkeys. They imagined how they would retell the epic Hawaiian myths in their own styles and sketched Hawaiian gods and goddesses in sarongs and swim shorts, with Disney princess faces as they listened.
And today I loaded them up into two school vans and took everybody-- all of the secondary teachers and students-- up to the Hindu temple and monastery in Wailua. I was impressed-- every kid followed my instructions to bring their permission slips and wear modest pants or skirts. I quizzed them in the van-- Rama and Sita, Jambavan and Ha…


Just got back from a four day jaunt to Oahu. We stayed in Waikiki, went to museums and ate out-- it was a fun mini vacation from our rural island. I liked pushing through the crowds of people, admiring the daring high-fashion haircuts, and eating authentic Japanese food. 
But I was bothered by something unexpected. 
I heard English in all accents, and a UN roster of other languages: Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and French. I heard more Japanese than I have since living in Japan. But I didn't hear a single word of Hawaiian. No mahalo or aloha or e komo mai-- not even the token, tourist-board approved warm fuzzy version of Hawaiian that gets used as a tool to bring a non-threatening layer of native authenticity to maitais and cheap plumeria leis.
Once I noticed it, the lack bothered me more and more. All the little chances people missed to use the few words of olelo that have crept in to common usage jumped out at me. At the bishop museum, we heard recorded Hawaiian voices chanti…