By Virginia Beck

The lotus blossom at Lawa‘i International Center’s Hall of Compassion will soon make room for a calligraphy sign with the following words: ALOHA — Akahai, kindness, as expressed with tenderness; Lokahi, unity, to be expressed with harmony; ‘Olu‘olu, agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness; Ha‘aha‘a, humility, to be expressed with modesty; and Ahonui, patience, to be expressed with perseverance. Photo by Léo Azambuja

When our communities come together to work on things, we call that gathering a “hui.” It can be a club, a work group, a program, but there is the sense of unity. “Lokahi” means doing this in harmony and unity.

The unusually heavy rains in April took even the meteorologists and the weather forecasters by surprise.

Small local tropical storms don’t usually congregate in the way they did then, to unload more than 28 inches of rain in 24 hours on the unsuspecting North Shore. The amount of recorded steady rainfall in such a short period was unprecedented, causing rivers and streams to flood and seek new pathways to the ocean.

In Hanalei, that caused multiple disasters and major damage to the entire Hanalei Beach area.

Roads were washed away, and landslides repeatedly blocked the highway that runs around the cliffs toward Wainiha and Ha‘ena.

Kaua‘i and her people have learned over the years to depend on each other for assistance with big projects, big parties, and big disasters. So the most remarkable thing about Kaua‘i is her people and how they work together to take care of each other.

Any visitor will be amazed by the beauty of our beaches, our ocean, and of course, our mountains. But the most inspiring thing is watching how we work to accomplish the impossible. Stuck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, one of the most remote places in the world, we have learned to share and improvise and live in the face of beauty or disaster, and still keep going.

Kaua‘i, the unconquerable. They meant the people. Kamehameha never conquered it. He used stealth and trickery. His successor, Kamehameha II, even kidnapped our King Kaumuali‘i, to accomplish his domination.

The people! My God, look what they are doing on Kaua‘i long before anyone hears about it!

Cancelling boat tours (Thank you, Blue Ocean Adventure tours) and getting $7500 together from family and friends, to buy generators, water, supplies, clothes, food, and go from the Westside around the Napali Coast to reach the ravaged parts of the North Shore, and shuttle rescued people to where they needed to go.

Leina‘ala Jardin’s Hula Halau started a drive for supplies, food and clothing. Gathering it in two days, then making sure it gets where it needs to go. The community of bee enthusiasts helping a professional bee keeper to raise money for a new honey bee house, a truck and new colonies of bees to restart his business.

On Kaua‘i, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know that makes all the difference. Community networking at its finest. And we pool resources.

Oh, the road washed away? Can’t get bulldozers in? No problem, we know a guy on the Westside who owns a vintage Navy landing craft; we can pile the bulldozers and backhoes, and deliver them by sea. We all know a guy who knows a guy, or his girlfriend, or his uncle’s cousins. And that is how we build our safety net and get buy.

People don’t wait to be asked. They just start texting friends, and figuring out what was needed from the last disaster, and then start organizing all of us, and managing supply lists. Our kama‘aina have contact lists like you wouldn’t believe. Now that is real power.

Of course they are used to organizing the entire senior class graduation, a spectacular event involving the cooperative talents of four interrelated families. Or a baby’s first birthday party, with 500 people attending; all family. Hey, if you have lived here long enough, we are nearly all related, so don’t be mean to my cousins.

Lokahi, a sense of harmony and peacefulness that comes from knowing we are not alone with whatever we are facing. Together, we can achieve more than we ever believed possible.

  • Virginia Beck, NP and Certified Trager® Practitioner, offers Wellness Consultation, Trager Psychophysical Integration and teaches Malama Birth Training classes. She can be reached at 635-5618.