Kūlia i ka nuʻu! E ala e! Makaʻala! Awaken, Arise, Beware!


Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large

The rise of new groups hostile to Native Hawaiians’ rights, as witnessed in the past legislative session, began the call to Awaken!

Whereas a decade earlier we tried to inform Washington politics with a quiet, behind-the-scenes influence by key leaders with the “Akaka Bill,” we now face an array of hostile groups which, despite not having the financial resources of big business, took advantage of the prevailing climate of public opinion to wrest control of the policy agenda away from the major issues OHA needs to build our lāhui.

The rise of these hostile groups has been, in part, stimulated by the growth of the federal government which is reflected by the huge jumps in federal spending to beat this pandemic’s impact on our economy. As government grows, interest groups proliferate around policy areas. Kānaka Maoli were unable to match the financial resources of the opposing side.

The opposition also gets support from the media by identifying themselves as having the lofty ideals that what they are pushing is good for general public, i.e., save our shorelines, our waterfront, etc.

They claim that OHA is a “special interest” organization whose members are selfish.

And yet we are all witness to the fact that OHA’s underdeveloped lands at Kakaʻako Makai (which were given to us to correct a huge debt the state could not pay) is the result of state leadership constantly marginalizing us for the last nine years. Other factors have also eroded our efforts.

The media (not just social media) can let these political or non-political groups and their leaders speak directly to the public on emotional issues, if they have the dollars to purchase the airtime.

The End or Diffusion of Power

An additional cause of power diffusion is simply that the state government has grown in size and complexity, yet neglected to maintain its vast infrastructure to handle, for example, the paying out on a timely basis our people’s unemployment checks, many of whom were Native Hawaiians.

These antiquated systems are open to hacking, cyber attacks, identity theft, etc. Now, please explain to me just who has the “power?”

Diffused…but letting those with financial means greatly influence the state leaders. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, three of the world’s richest men, were brilliant enough to know this when all three recommended the book titled The End of Power, written by Moises Naim.

From the Wall Street Journal: “Moises Naim’s The End of Power offers a cautionary tale to would-be Lincolns in the modern era. Naim is a courageous writer who seeks to dissect big subjects in new ways. At a time when critics of overreaching governments, big banks, media moguls and concentrated wealth decry the power of the ‘1%,’ Mr. Naim argues that leaders of all types – political, corporate, military, religious, union – face bigger, more complex problems with weaker hands than in the past.”

Let me end with: E ala e, ARISE…Be makaʻala! Be awake, be alert, and be aware!

E mālama pono, a hui hou, Trustee Leinaʻala Ahu Isa