Moments in time captured with various odd symbols referred to in the lingua franca as letters.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Amid the waves and sun

I don´t know how to begin this. At times I struggle to fully realize my own thoughts and find that I fall back to the land of cliches. A land from where it is hard to recover one´s poise. I will try, I will struggle, I will let these thoughts loose, I will let them grow.

An island group. An isolated island group somewhere in the middle of the pacific. A population of natives with a very structured society. A society that put a great emphasis on their greatest resource: the ocean. A society that strove to be as close to the ocean and all its gifts as possible. Perhaps in this day of Avatar and Dances with Wolves there is nothing easier than to over-romanticize an indigenous group, to make them seem more enlightened than their evil conquerors, to make them seem closer to nature. I don´t deny this may be the case, but let me have this limb and we´ll see if it will hold the weight I place on it.

Once upon a time there was island people whose love for the sea was evident even to the first European eyes. Captain Cook noted in his notes that the Hawaiians rode waves on pieces of wood. Once upon a time there was an island people who didn´t have Christianity and to the Christian world this meant only one thing: they were in need of missionaries. Indeed the missionaries came and they even fought amongst themselves to the point that the catholic priests were persecuted under instructions from the calvinist missionaries. At this point we have not even arrived at the lowest point of this story. The missionaries could not leave the people as they were. The missionaries felt the Hawaiians were lazy and so they did everything they could to destroy their ocean loving culture. They discouraged them from surfing the waves, an action that had kept them healthy and fit. They did what they thought would be good for them: tried to turn them into images of protestantism. Then the United States took its first step towards becoming an empire and seized the islands. This was only the beginning of the decline.

Amid all the chaos, there were those who clung to the old ways and despite the influx of outsiders, the dietary changes that wreaked havoc on the native population, and the colonialism that took place they kept the old traditions around. The person whose name is most evoked for bringing back the art of surfing is Duke Kahanamoku and perhaps it was his simple love of the ocean that helped most in the revival. There were many others of course who struggled to bring back to the islands what the people had lost and I will say from my visit that there is still have a long way to go to restore all that was lost. All my respect goes out to those men and women who love those islands and are trying to restore the ecosystems and culture.


el mars said...

good shit, son!

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