Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022|
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I just moved to Hilo a month ago. I wanted to share some of my impressions as people seem to be really interested in what I think of the place and the people. In fact, I am constantly asked what I think of the people.
“Why?” I finally asked one curious aunty. She replied that people are usually shocked by how nice people are in Hilo because of the “Aloha Spirit.”
But not everyone thinks that way. A fruit salesman here told me he thought some of the locals were “stuck up.” He was brown-skinned. I say that because I have been warned that people with certain skin colors should not complain about things here or else they might be called “haoles” (I myself have brown skin).
I have lived in many different places, and I am interested in the myths that keep communities peaceful, whether they are myths of nation, brotherhood, religion or Aloha Spirit. I have felt the spirit in the generosity of many people I have met here, both Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian. At the same time, it feels like there is an underlying anxiety about losing the Aloha Spirit, as apparently this is one of the last places it exists.
Why is the myth of the Aloha Spirit fading away? Do we need this myth to peacefully coexist? Does the Aloha Spirit allow space for expressions of anger and sadness? Does Aloha Spirit include compassion for the ones who are supposedly taking it away?
The theme of “belonging” also seems to be on many people’s minds. My partner and I were walking down a neighborhood street when a construction laborer stopped us and started asking us a list of questions: Where do you two live? Are you married? Are you buying or renting? How long have you been here?
The “belonging” question also seems to inform levels of anger shown towards others. I have heard stories shaming people who claim they are Native Hawaiians if they were adopted by a Native Hawaiian family.
I was screamed at by a blond woman for dropping a banana peel (which she called “rubbish”) on the ground, for disrespecting the land (even though I was told to do so by another white lifetime local, who said the trees are always dropping fruit onto the ground anyway).
Another thing I sense is anxiety about money. People are understandably upset about the cost of living here compared to their relatively low incomes. But then I always hear them put a positive spin on the situation: “Well, that’s what you pay for paradise!”
When I told a part-Native Hawaiian that I moved out here for a job, he gave me a long silent look. “So, they brought someone all the way out here from the mainland to work, huh,” he said with a laugh.
I sense many repressed emotions below the Aloha Spirit’s surface, and I am interested in learning more about the complexities of this place.
If anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
I did not mean to offend anyone by this letter.
I write in regards to the article in last Sunday’s paper about a proposed water bottling plant in Hilo (a front-page article, no less.)
I’m sure there are many reasons, pro and con, why this company should be allowed to build a water bottling plant in Hilo by extracting up to 200,000 gallons of water a day from the aquifer.
Soon, this company will surely proceed to attempt to get government approval of their proposed water bottling plant.
My concern is that the article about the plant ended up being a rather shameless public relations piece about this for-profit business.
I would hope that in the future, this newspaper would use better judgment in choosing which subjects are truly newsworthy (or at the very least that your reporter would do an article that expressed other points of view).
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