Native Hawaiians, once at risk of extinction through exposure to Western diseases, endured a steep population decline. And through a collective act of will, they revived a rich heritage of language, dance, song, artisanship and agriculture. Together with generations of early 20th-century plantation immigrants, like my Okinawan grandparents, they built a multicultural society that honors tolerance and welcome.

People in Hawaii know diversity and together have gone through many disasters. Those of my mother’s generation remember the tsunamis in 1946 and 1960 that ravaged Hilo, her hometown. In 1990 an entire village, Kalapana, vanished under 50 to 80 feet of lava. Whenever I see #earthquake trending on Twitter, I go to to see what’s shaking in the Pacific Rim. Civil defense sirens are the alert tone that sings me back home as easily as Gabby Pahinui does. My Big Island cousin Quince Mento, who retired in 2011 as Hawaii County’s civil defense director, is one of the calmest people I know, but I’m sure he sleeps easier knowing that someone else is minding the lava.

And we remember Jan. 13, 2018, the bright Saturday morning when all our cellphones told us we were all going to die imminently. The ballistic-missile false alarm terrified the state, but not everybody panicked. My brother and his family, seated together at a restaurant near Honolulu, were as shaken as everyone else, but they had just ordered breakfast, and they were looking out the window at Pearl Harbor, North Korea’s presumed target No. 1. So — shrug emoji — they kept calm and stayed put. “At least we’re all together,” my nephew said.

The connections that bind families across the islands will inspire them to protect one another and the land, as they did before. I’m hopeful that Hawaiians will find solutions to their problems that don’t require moving to Las Vegas.

I hope they will continue to be like Nathan, the brave Hawaiian of a 1970s soap opera comedy skit, “The Young Kanakas,” who said: “No worry, honey, no worry. Together, we figure it out.”

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *