Essay: Value of Hawaii Hawai'i Is an Island

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Value of Hawaii

Hawai'i is an island that has somewhat controversially and unusually entered its status as American state some 50 years ago. Indeed, many of the current economic and social problems currently experienced by the state have been ascribed to its difficult relationship with the United States and the circumstances surrounding its integration as a state of the country. In the book The Value of Hawaii: knowing the past, shaping the future, edited by Craig Howes and Jon Osorio (2010), the various authors offer highly divergent viewpoints of the problems facing Hawai'i, as well as potential solutions to these problems. What unites these authors is a basic understand that, to effectively function in the future, it is vital to remember the past and use its lessons; whether these indicate the need for change or the retention of previously effective ways of thought and management. Specifically, three of the essays seem to touch on important paradigms that should see change before Hawai'i as a state of the United States as well as an entity on its own can hope to find solutions to its myriad problems that are uniquely related to its nature as an island and as a culture. In this context, the essays by Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwo'ole Osorio, Sumner la Croix, and Ramsay Remigius Mahealani Taum offer questions and solutions regarding Hawaiian culture, its economy, and its tourist industry, promoting a sense of hope that the state can indeed resolve its problems and difficulties.

The essay by Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwo'ole Osorio is entitled "Hawaiian Issues" and focuses on the past nature of the state as a destination for Polynesian voyagers. He also briefly describes the state's development in terms of culture and rulership until it was taken as a state by the United States. The author seems to be very concerned with the effect of this integration, which he regards as both unfair and illegal.

The essay is not, however, a simple diatribe against the United States or even a call to action for Hawaiians to stand together and fight this integration. Although there is certainly a conceptual dichotomy between the descriptions of native, traditional Hawaiian culture and the way in which the United States as a whole operates, the author nonetheless suggests that Hawaiians simply remember the values upon which their culture is based, while calling upon corporations to integrate these into a common value system that would allow for the conservation of land. He also suggests that such integration would also mean the solution to a myriad social and economic problems such as the widening gap between the rich and poor, the current system of tourism, and the management of land. What is most striking about this essay is that the author focuses on the existing positive paradigms in the state and suggesting that those be used for future social reform, upon which economic and educational reform can also be built. To carry this further, Osorio considers in more detail the paradigm known as the Hawaiian movement. He also takes great pains to explain the separate agendas of the United States and its increasingly unrealistic professions about civil rights, equal opportunity, and respect for property. Instead, the Hawaiian movement has raised public awareness of how the initial takeover of the state and the subsequent ways in which its local citizens have been treated. This has had great impacts on the Hawaiian culture and the way in which culture is celebrated and experienced in the state. Thus, the root of the problem, according to Osorio, is the basic divide between the native, inclusive culture of the Hawai'i and the exclusive economically driven paradigms of the United States and its powerful corporations. Hence, the author believes that the Hawaiian movement can offer solutions by means of cultures learning from each other rather than dominating or subordinating each other.

Sumner La Croix's essay is entitled, simply, "The Economy." In somewhat less idealistic terms than Osorio, La Croix instead focuses on the precise infrastructure issues that the state faces in terms of its basic economic building blocks. The author sees two basic problematic issues that has driven… [END OF PREVIEW]

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