Our kitty pal Elvis has left the building. He passed away a few weeks ago. The other two cats are fine. They learned to adapt to Hawaii. They learned not to slap at wasps and carry centipedes around in their mouths. They probably learned it by watching Elvis foolishly think he could conquer the critters that were so foreign to them creeping into our house.
Gracie and Oscar know how to observe. They are cautious and respectful of the unknown. Elvis acted first and didn’t bother asking questions later. He didn’t learn from his mistakes. He was bitten and poisoned early and never fully recovered. He was too old to be that carefree and he eventually paid for it with his life. If he were human you might say he mistook being careless and unthinking for living in the moment. Which brings us to haoles.
Believe it or not, more than one White friendly acquaintance I’ve made in Hawaii has asked me why they aren’t accepted as Hawaiian. They’ve been living here a good number of years. They are active in the community. Why can’t they crack that secret code and be mistaken for Hawaiian by Hawaiians? Why are they considered, that dreaded word, haoles?
Hawaii changes you. Once animal behavior becomes uniquely Hawaiian, the animals are considered indigenous to the islands. So it needs to be with humans to be considered “local.” Want to be local? You adapt. If you are unmoved by where you live but are trying to move it toward your sensibilities, you are not of the place, are you? You’re living in it but you are not of it.
What about being more than local? What does it take to be considered Hawaiian? Western history, which is partly rubbish, but is likely what my White friends believe, tells us that what are today considered “Hawaiians” are a mixture of Tahitians and Marquesans. Polynesians. Can a White person be Polynesian? Is that what they’re asking?
No, they’re asking why they stick out like the cliched sore thumb, which is an odd question because they don’t want to fit in. They want to be accepted as is, colonialist mentality and all. That is ridiculous, but just try telling them that.
Why do we do this? Why do we ask that others accept us for who we are not? If you are not of the Aloha spirit, but more of a steamroller, don’t ask the people you’ve crushed to accept you as you are. You don’t know what you are. You don’t even acknowledge you’re a steamroller. You see nothing wrong with terraforming an island chain to your mini mall vision. It’s like when a five-year-old screams at you that he’s not a little kid anymore. He wants to be the adult’s equal, but guess what? He’s friggen five.
And so it is with the oblivious White person. The haole. They live here but they are not of here. They don’t respect the aina like a local and don’t listen to aina like a Hawaiian. To listen is to sway with Hawaii, in the flow of her, and be thankful.
Animals come here to this place where there is no top predator. They don’t have to chatter or behave as slaves to their defense mechanisms anymore. They can talk about something else for a change. What a relief! They slip into a new groove—the Hawaiian groove. But when top predators come here, already feeling safe and secure, as Elvis did—he was the alpha house kitty—there is an arrogance that precedes them and will eventually be their downfall.
This house ain’t your Brooklyn apartment, Elvis. How I wish we could have made you understand.
As it is with lizards, birds, cats, toads, scorpions, seals, flowers, and trees, so it is with us. And there’s no greater top predator on the planet than the White man. So, the odds of such a one seeing the need to give up “White privilege” to fit in, or even being conscious of it in the first place, is slim. More likely they’ll want everyone else to fit in with their vision of how things fit because that’s what “lessers” are supposed to do. But White greatness is a size too small here.
Those in denial will find this offensive. They’ll wish I were not a White man so they could call me racist and continue to ignore the fact, married, as they are, to their false victimhood, wondering, forever wondering, Why aren’t I accepted for the person I’m not?