I Mana Ka Leo; Our Voices Have Power

leo (nvt. Voice, tone, tune, melody, sound, command, advice, syllable, plea, verbal message; to speak, make a sound)

Photo: Sylvia Hussey

Aloha mai kākou,

Being the youngest of six children, and almost 20 years younger than the firstborn, I learned the importance and necessity of my voice early on. In our large family and in our small Kohala town, I had to speak up or I would not be heard. As I got older, I was drawn to leadership. I was active in student government and my senior year I was voted Kohala High School’s student body president. In that role I was able to use my voice to represent the school at a district and state level; and convey concerns of my fellow students to our teachers, administrators, parents and community. Through these foundational experiences, and in my professional career, I have learned how critically important it is to stand up – to illuminate the unseen and amplify the unheard.

The beloved children’s book, The Lorax, written by Dr. Seuss in the 1970s, is a story about taking care of our environment. In the story, the Lorax speaks on behalf of the trees and against their destruction saying, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

The story makes an important point – not caring enough about what is happening in our world to speak out or to do anything about it really isn’t an option. Whether through advocacy for social or environmental issues, or through our individual vote on election day, our voices help to shape the world that our keiki and moʻopuna will inherit. Without caring enough to put our voices into action through our civic engagement and through our vote, others will decide the future for our keiki and moʻopuna.

Native Americans speak of the “seventh generation.” The idea applies to decision-making and the concept is to think seven generations ahead and to carefully consider whether the impact of the decisions you make today will benefit or harm ʻohana born 140 years in the future.

How we use our vote, and who we decide to vote for, matters.

There are so many critical issues at stake in the 2020 elections here in our pae ʻāina, and in the larger world beyond our shores. Voting is a serious kuleana and an educated, informed lāhui is essential. In this issue of Ka Wai Ola, we share the results of candidate surveys for key races in advance of the general election on November 3 to help educate and inform our readers.

Our cover story this month features the voices of some of our ʻōpio, the upcoming generation of lāhui leaders. And we hear from ʻōiwi who have experienced COVID-19 and who hope that, by speaking out, their experiences will help dispel the misconceptions and hilahila associated with this disease. We also welcome a new voice to Ka Wai Ola – a new recurring column by Liliʻuokalani Trust.

I mana ka leo; our voices have power. Let us use them to uplift, protect and preserve our ʻāina, moʻomeheu and ʻohana.

Sylvia M. Hussey, Ed.D.
Ka Pouhana/Chief Executive Officer