In Hilo and in London. On different islands, oceans apart, this weekend, a royal celebration and the perpetuation of centuries old traditions that took us from the ancient to the modern.
On one, a recently colonized people celebrated the survival and rebirth of their song and dance, their language, their culture, their community, their sense of oneness with the land and with their ancestors.
On the other, a nation that had once colonized North America and more, celebrated the perpetuation of a monarchy that had been driven, sometimes with bloodshed, others times through diplomacy, from many a far flung outpost of empire. And the celebration was watched with apparently insatiable interest by those who had once driven them out.
On one, dancers newly, proudly proficient in a language once erased from their tongues, chanted the stories of love and loss. They told stories of royal nuptials and newborn royals, of divine intervention in mortal affairs, of reward and punishment, of the fragrance of loved ones and the prowess of a beloved surfing hero.
On the other, the pomp and pageantry of an enfeebled monarchy, a parade of the accumulated booty of bygone times and the designer chic of present times on the red carpet of the cold, grand Westminster Abbey.
On one, the rhythm of dancing feet, whirling skirts of, rustling`uli`uli and an exuberance of spirit. All expressed on the bare wooden stage of Edith Kanaka`ole Stadium in hot and humid Hilo on the island of Hawai`i. The performers spun, through their mele and their movements, stories of community and ancestry, divinity and grace that have survived the experience of American colonization. An experience so recent that there are elders who are still alive to talk about their painful history of lost ali`i and to hand down the legacy of a culture that miraculously resisted erasure.
It’s the lei, not the lie that should make news
Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper—the list goes on—of network and cable news anchors and their teams who descended on London to bring the news of the wedding of Will and Kate to all the world. All weekend, no matter where you went for news, you learned something more that no one needed to know about the romance of Will and Kate. There was almost nonstop coverage of every aspect of how the people of England reacted to the wedding of those who will head their nation because of the accident of birth. And the coverage continues.
The national TV stations would have served their viewers better had at least one or two of them trained their cameras on The Merrie Monarch Festival on the island of Hawai`i. If nothing else, bringing mainland USA the truly inspiring story of the survival of Hawaiian culture might have helped some Americans understand how being born and raised in Hawai`i has enriched the thinking of the man they chose as their leader. That might have been a bit more useful than the enormous coverage given to the lies about his birth.
Thanks to the Hawai`i News Now/KFVE team, those of us who are lucky to call these islands home got a wonderful glimpse of a gifted people whose spirit could not be extinguished and who offer the enormous gifts of their mana`o to all who come seeking, not to conquer and to take but to learn and to give. In the process, we are all enriched in ways that words cannot convey. Because it is in giving that we receive, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.