Cross cultures – cross purposes?

Not really sure how to start this one out except to say Aloha from sunny Hawaii. I’m in Hawaii with my family and we are enjoying the sun and the wind. Getting lots of vitamin D that’s for sure.

Chris and I were here 15 years ago when we were still in the military. We came on a five day training flip. At that time I don’t remember it being so … Americanized. The area we are staying in is Waikiki and our first day we just took it easy, we went to costco for our week’s meals then walked around the beach area. Vendors, many vendors , selling the waikiki experience, the hawaiian attitude of colour and flowers and grace. Some were not so graceful as they tried to lure the fish in from the sea of tourists as they walked by.

Yesterday we went to the Bishop museum. Chock full of the authentic Hawaiian culture, the building was almost empty. Gorgeously carved wooden statues and meticulously interpreted artifacts were displayed in three sided glass cases encased in wood themselves. From astronomy to traditional calendars to politics and warfare to the eventual takeover by missionaries and absorption into the western culture. I am not a church hater but I do believe they have a lot to answer for. Genocide of a different form has occurred here and elsewhere in the world. I could feel the anguish of an almost lost culture by the Daughters of Hawaii Supported and encouraged by Bernice Bishop, a Hawaiian Princess who turned down ruling, the Daughters have created a haven for the Hawaiians to come and remember their heritage.

Immediately after the Bishop museum we went to what was billed as a traditional luau at Paradise Cove, near Ko Olina. We were here at this exact luau 15 years ago and wanted our children to see it too. The only difference was that we visited the Bishop Museum this time, we didn’t last time. I am so very glad we did. The contrast between tradtional and modern could not have been more stark. The luau was very enjoyable as an outing but most of my enjoyment came from watching fat attendees waddle from one event to another, called by the pu’u, the conch shell. Repetious long calls on the shell talked over by a pretty hawaiiaan girl on a microphone saying “follow the call of the pu’u, the conch shell to your next event” over and over and over and over until the sea of cattle moved from one place to another. Spear throwing, hula dancing, old canoes on the tiny bay, three to a canoe changing out after one trip which took approximately 30 seconds. Not to mention it took five to ten minutes to get these three people in the boat and seated.

I came back to the hotel room last night with a lot of dismay at the status of the current Hawaiian situation. The Hawaiian culture is not even touched on the barest of surfaces by many of these tourists and I believe it is a sad state when people don’t know any different. This world today is a shallow place and I wonder at it.

I am almost welcoming the catastrophe expected in 2012 to wash away and clear out the guck in our consciousness. I suspect people will look to tradition to start the rebuild process and maybe this time they’ll be smart enough to tell the church to keep their noses out of it. Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry