Aloha Mai Kakou,
I rarely communicate or engage in social media but felt compelled this morning to do so.
Every time I get up the day after a big flood like what happened yesterday, things seem to be a little surreal. I learned long ago as a kalo farmer that when it comes to flooding, there’s really nothing you can do about it. No sense panicking or worrying, Rather, just receive the life-giving water and the next day observe and assess how the water moved through the lo’i so as to mitigate, if possible, future flooding and the destruction that can come from it. But this morning was not surreal for me because of the flooding. It was surreal because of our experience of just returning home yesterday from Spain.
Most world experts agree that Spain is now the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Michele and I were there for nearly the last two weeks because our oldest daughter Makana was doing a self-directed study for her last semester of college. Like most people worldwide, I had been tracking the outbreak, knew things were moving fast in Europe, specifically in Italy, and was aware that events could unfold quickly in Spain as well. Michele and I had planned the trip some time ago to visit Makana, but before leaving did not want to go. We could see the clouds forming on the horizon, but “sailed into the storm” because our concern was Makana’s wellbeing and her not being stuck there alone. Events transformed much faster than I thought they would. In short, it’s nearly a miracle that we’re all home today.
By nature, I’m not an alarmist or dooms dayer. I’m an optimist. My concern is not necessarily having the coronavirus, it’s that I could spread it to the most vulnerable in our community, our kupuna. We are self-isolating at home for the next 14 days and will not leave our property. Our three other kids have left and will be vagabonds for the next two weeks (they are being well cared for by others). I can’t express how important it is for us to practice the protocols that are most likely now mandatory in all of Europe. Understand that events are transpiring hourly, and our government is not going to be the one that protects us. We must! We were told that upon arriving in the US that we would have to wait around 4 hours to be screened (understandable because our flight was coming directly from Spain), but all we did was fill out a form marking that we did not have a fever nor were exposed to anyone who had the virus. We passed through in less than 20 minutes! In other words, there are no real safeguards. Relative to Spain, landing in Miami, LAX and Honolulu was like being in a scene from the movie Titanic, where there is little sense of urgency about the danger.
Unlike when it floods in the lo’i, we can do something about the spread of the coronavirus. No need to panic or worry. But we must change our protocols. I lived in Europe for two years and liken much of the Italian culture to our own. Italians are social, love getting together, and are touchy-feely. I’m convinced that their initial lack of urgency about the virus coupled with their social norms and manner contributed greatly to the outbreak they are now suffering from. We must learn from their experience, take this seriously and momentarily go against our social graces of greeting one another with hugs, kisses, and honi. While it seems counterintuitive, living aloha in this time and season is practicing social distancing/isolation and following all the health precautions experts are recommending. We can mitigate the spreading of this virus and help protect our kupuna and ourselves. We don’t want what’s now happening in Europe today to be happening here in Hawaii tomorrow. And based on our experience, it can happen that fast! The kuleana is all of ours to be socially responsible. ‘A’ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia (No task is too great when done together by all).
May God bless and protect you, your ohana and our beloved Hawaii.
Me ke aloha pumehana,