Archive for the ‘History’ category

Learning from the Golden Rule

November 26, 2019

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

In 1958, the Golden Rule sailed toward the Marshall Islands to protect nuclear bomb testing. Their courage and dedication got them arrested and put on trial in Honolulu. They also inspired the Phoenix of Hiroshima to make their own maritime protest and helped bring about the Limited Nuclear Testing Ban Treaty of 1964.

This was a surprise to me. I remember learning about Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, and the 442nd Infantry Regiment; but I don’t remember anything about the protests against nuclear testing. So I was very interested to attend a program about the Golden Rule, hosted by the Interfaith Alliance Hawaii, Veterans for Peace, Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin, and other community organizations.

Golden Rule crewmember Helen Jaccard shared the history of the Golden Rule, which was relaunched in 2015 and showed the film “Making Waves: The Rebirth of the Golden Rule.” By sailing to the Marshall Islands again, Helen stated, “We want to be a mouthpiece for their concerns.”

Rev. Tatsuo Muneto, former Rimban of Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin, talked about going to school in Hiroshima after the bombing, when classes were divided into morning and afternoon sessions because there weren’t enough school supplies. He recalls watching the Phoenix of Hiroshima being built. He reminded us, “We have to keep the world peaceful for us and for future generations.”

Dr. Seiji Yamada, a family physician in Hawaii and professor at the University of Hawaii, offered an informative presentation about public health and weapons development. With photos and first-hand accounts, he highlighted the displacement of the Marshall Islands people from their homes to resource-poor islands like Ebeye and the subsequent lack of fresh food, overcrowding, and increases in obesity, alcoholism, and diabetes. “Instead of preparing for nuclear war, we must prevent nuclear war,” he declared.

Throughout the program, speakers talked about the things that we can do to help bring about peace in the world:

  • Support justice, compassion, and health for Marshall Islands residents. Write to Hawaii senators and representatives in support of restoring their Medicare benefits.
  • Learn more and think about the reasons for military action. Is our military defending our country or serving economic objectives? Call for honest military recruitment.
  • Support better education about nuclear bomb testing and the use of nuclear weapons. The emphasis on education resonated with me. Hearing the stories of people who survived Hiroshima and protested nuclear testing make a big impact on me.
  • Get educated about the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii Island, where they use live rounds that destroy the environment; and encourage other nations NOT to participate in RIMPAC, a maritime warfare exercise, an attendee encouraged.
  • Have conversations about nuclear testing. “Local ministers themselves have to work harder in this area,” Rev. Muneto suggested.

Seven decades after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of nuclear war is still with us.

What are we teaching our children about military force? How can we influence our governments to avoid nuclear war?

Journeying with “Harriet”

November 19, 2019

I don’t go to the movies often, but when my 13-year old son’s social studies teacher recommended that the class watch “Harriet,” we decided to watch it as a family.

Teen translation: we sat in the same row at the movie theater, but with empty seats between us.

I was impressed with the movie. Harriet is portrayed as a woman of faith, conviction, and fearlessness. Once she decides to run towards freedom, she is committed – she doesn’t look back and she doesn’t give up.

A few reflections about the movie “Harriet”:

Harriet is the focus. She is in most of the scenes and almost all of the events are seen from her perspective. Even when she is not on camera, the characters talk about her. There are many strong and interesting people in her life, but we only learn about them in their relationship with Harriet. What made the fictional Walter completely change his life after spying on Harriet? How were Harriet’s life and character different from her sister Rachel’s experiences of slavery? In real life, Rachel died before Harriet returned to help her escape.

The power of names. Harriet was born Araminta Ross, and her family and slave owners called her Minty. (Araminta means “prayer and protection”). When she decided to escape slavery, she chose a new name: Harriet (which means “ruler of the home”) for her mother and Tubman for her husband. And when she was a conductor for the Underground Railroad, she was given the name Moses.

Freedom and rivers. Two pivotal scenes in the movie involve a river. The first scene is when Harriet stands on a bridge, surrounded on both sides by slave hunters, and decides she would rather die free than live as a slave. Harriet survives the fall and the churning river, awakening on the river bank closer to freedom. The second scene is when Harriet is leading a group of slaves to freedom and the slaves question her judgment when they confront a river. Harriet walks into the river to show them the way and emerges on the other side as a strong, committed leader.

The two scenes parallel the story of Moses, who was put in a basket in the river to save his life and who parted the Red Sea to lead the Israelites to freedom.

Faith in God (or trust your instincts). During her adult life, Harriet had “spells” or visions, which she believed were from God. She chose to follow those visions, even when the people around her doubted her, and she doesn’t hesitate to second-guess her decisions.

If you have you seen “Harriet,” what did you like about the movie? What did you learn about her life – or about the people around her?

Indulge your curiosity on Museum Day

September 18, 2018

Museum Day is an annual celebration of boundless curiosity hosted by Smithsonian magazine. It’s a day we can learn about where we come from, who we are, and the shape of our future.

On Saturday, September 22, 2018 participating museums and cultural institutions are opening their doors with free admission to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket.

There are 10 museums to choose from in Hawaii. Choose a museum wisely – you can download one ticket per email address.

On Oahu:

* Enjoy contemporary artwork by artists with a connection to Hawaii at the Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM), 250 S. Hotel Street, Honolulu, 10 am to 4 pm.

* Immerse yourself in Hawaii’s royal heritage at the only royal residence in the United States, Iolani Palace, 364 S. King Street, Honolulu, 9 am to 3:30 pm.

* Walk in the shoes of Japanese immigrants who sought better lives for themselves  in Hawaii and celebrate the legacy of Hawaii’s own astronaut, Ellison Onizuka, at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, 2454 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu, 9 am to 2 pm.

* Hear stories of Pearl Harbor and see bullet-scarred hangars, historic aircraft, modern jets and helicopters at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, 319 Lexington Blvd, Honolulu, 9 am to 5 pm.

On Hawaii Island:

* See life as it was 150 years ago in a restored Mission House built for New England missionaries David and Sarah Lyman in 1939 at Lyman Museum, 276 Haili Street, Hilo, 10 am to 4:30 pm.

On Kauai:

* Stroll through one of Hawaii’s earliest surviving sugar plantations, with a special exhibit about “Women Making History” and PAULO, the oldest surviving plantation locomotive, at Grove Farm Museum, 4050 Nawiliwili Road, Lihue, 10 am to 2 pm.

* Experience missionary life in Hawaii at Waioli Mission House, 05-5373 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, 9 am to 3 pm.

On Maui:

* Explore the rise of the sugar industry in Hawaii and its impact on Maui’s water resources and multi-ethnic culture at the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, 3957 Hansen Road, Puunene, 9:30 am to 4 pm.

* Step into the past at the oldest still-standing home on Maui, a “missionary compound” built by Reverend Ephraim Spaulding at Baldwin Home, 120 Dickenson Street, Lahaina, 10 am to 4 pm.

* Learn about the impact of Chinese laborers who built tunnels and irrigation systems and worked in sugar plantations and mills at the Wo Hing Museum, 858 Front Street, Lahaina, 10 am to 4 pm.

Which Hawaii museum will you visit on Museum Day? What connections do you have with Hawaii’s history?

Learning from the Annexation Debate

March 13, 2018

Chanters descended from the twin curving staircases, their soaring voices filling the rotunda of Ali‘iolani Hale. Barefoot, they led the way through the open doors of the restored 1913 courtroom. We followed silently and sat in hard wooden benches in front of a judge’s bench.

Recently, I attended a performance “Mai Poina: The Annexation Debate,” an eloquent and insightful reenactment that presented the background of Hawai‘i’s annexation through the words of people involved in the debate.

Emma Aima Nāwahī, Ke Aloha Aina newspaper editor and confidant of Queen Lili‘uokalani, and James Keauiluna Kaulia, president of Hui Aloha ‘Āina, greeted each other after a long absence, wondering why they have returned. They drew in the audience by acknowledging us, and realizing that they have been called back for a purpose: to educate us about the events leading up to Hawaii’s annexation in 1898.

Dressed in period costumes, performing in a historical courtroom, Emma (played by Karen Kaulana) and James (played by William Murray) began talking about the annexation debate – using the power of their voices and first-person accounts to walk us back through history. They took us through the so-called “bayonet” constitution of 1887, signed by King Kalākaua,  Queen Lili‘uokalani’s attempt to restore power to the monarchy, and her subsequent overthrow in 1893, to the efforts of Native Hawaiians to organize, petition, and send delegates to the U.S. Capitol to oppose annexation.

They were joined by other historical figures, such as William O. Smith, who played a role in the creation of the Republic of Hawaii, and Senator John Tyler Morgan, U.S. Senator from Alabama who strongly supported annexation. They presented their side of the debate: that the monarchy was ineffective, that Hawai‘i was strategically located, that America needed to ensure their power in the Pacific, and that foreign powers like Japan might seize Hawai‘i – against the wider American policy of nation-building.

With minimal props – chair and podiums – and nothing to distract us from the power of their words, the cast brought to life the emotions, determination, and conviction of the people involved, on both sides of the debate. Karen Kaulana’s clear, incisive voice echoed in the courtroom, a powerful complement to William Murray’s smooth, confident baritone.

In the discussion afterward, we were fortunate to have some knowledgeable audience members who started a discussion about the legality of a Congressional Resolution, whether an attempt to write a new constitution can be considered treason, and how students today are learning about both sides of the annexation debate. We all received an informative viewer’s guide with a timeline, historical photos and illustrations, articles, and the text of the 1897 Resolution Protesting Annexation so that we could take the discussion home.

“Mai Ponina: The Annexation Debate” was free and open to the public, presented by the Hawai‘i Pono‘ī Coalition, a consortium of Native Hawaiian-serving organizations.

What did you learn about Hawai‘i’s annexation in school? How different was it from what students learn today? What can or should be done to address the annexation debate?

Remembering Helen Kinau Wilder

September 10, 2013

Every September, I make a contribution to the Hawaiian Humane Society in honor of my cat Oscar, who was with us for ten years. I’d like to take a moment to remember a woman who made a huge impact on the Hawaiian Humane Society: Helen Kinau Wilder (1869-1954), a Hawaiian heiress and world-traveler who was the first humane officer in Hawaii.

I first read about Wilder in the Hawaiian Humane Society Newsletter (June-August 2012), and I wanted to learn more about this remarkable woman. The most complete information that I’ve found about her is in two articles: “Helen Kinau Wilder: A ‘New Woman’ in the Pacific Islands” on the YesterYear Once More blog, and “In Search of Charlie Chan” by Geoffrey Dunn, which claims Wilder as a long-time Santa Cruz resident.

Helen Kinau Wilder on Horseback

Wilder was deputized as a special constable of the Marshal of the Republic of Hawaii in 1897. At the time, women were the driving force behind animal welfare. Officers in Hawaii ventured out on horseback to investigate animal mistreatment, which included 285 overworked horses and mules in 1900. With their own money, Wilder and her friends hired Officer Chang Apana (the inspiration for Earl der Biggers’ Charlie Chan) as the Society’s officer to investigate animal crimes on the Big Island. Other humane officers, such as Rose Davison and Lucy Ward (daughter of Victoria Ward), followed Wilder’s example and investigated animal cruelty and mistreatment.

News of her appointment and commitment to animals and children reached across the United States. In 1899, Fort Wayne News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) reported: “Honolulu has a policewoman. Her name is Helen Wilder, she is 23 years old, and is a regularly appointed officer of the Hawaiian police force. She wears a soft felt hat, on which glitters the silver star that shows that she is a policewoman. She carries a revolver and is not afraid to use it. She has made several arrests unaided. Miss Wilder loves children and animals, and wherever she is, or whatever she may be doing, carries a pair of handcuffs, which she is quick to snap upon the wrists of the enemies of her small and lowly friends.”

She sounds like someone I would like to know and have on my side. “Helen Wilder is as much a part of Hawaii as is Mauna Loa. Visitors never fail to ask who she is. For with close-cropped hair and confidant stride, her soft hat and shining star, she never fails to attract attention. Hawaiian society, which is itself complex and odd, does not often frown upon her eccentricities,” enthused the Hornellsville Weekly Tribune (Hornellsville, New York) in 1897.

“They like her because she is bright and original, because her personality is as refreshing as it is peculiar. They recognize her clear-grained human worth. Men who are tired of the inane or the clinging vine act find in Helen Wilder a comrade who is interesting, amusing and altogether charming.”

Her personal life was also filled with excitement: a lawsuit after Wilder arrested a mule driver without a warrant (she left the courthouse victorious, humming “My Honolulu Lady”), with a broken engagement to a possible gold-digger, and a secret marriage after which she decided to spend her honeymoon alone.

Is there an animal rights advocate whom you admire? What causes do you champion?