By Virginia Beck
As the equinox approaches, more and more kolea, or Pacific golden plovers, return to Kaua‘i. Pluvia fulva is their Latin name, coming from the belief that they flocked before the rains came. In truth, they come for the winter to fatten up before they fly a very direct route back to the Arctic tundra to breed.
They feed on insects and shellfish on open ground or the shoreline. The green parrots, actually parakeets, are not so kind. As an invasive species, they grew from a single pair to more than 5,000. They decimate local farmers’ papaya, lychee, mangoes and other fruit. One commercial orchard lost one third of their crop.
The kolea are migratory, and contribute to insect control and a cheerful song to the island. Not all our visitors are so kind.
A few days ago, I filled my truck at a local gas station. I noticed an attendant helping someone at the pump. The customer had a shiny, clean sedan, an immaculate white short-sleeve shirt, long pants and carefully combed hair.
He looked very professional and not very local.
The two of them were chatting in low tones, and I was admiring the trees across the road. It was all very ordinary.
“Show me your green card!” The words cut the air like a knife. I was startled and looked over. I watched closely, thinking they must be joking around. I had never actually heard someone saying this in real life.
Did I need to do something? I was not going to stand by for this. At least I could go over and stand by the woman. This is not aloha. Not pono, right speech, or action. Where was his green card?
For Pete’s sake, we are all immigrants, and all descended from the same African foremother some millions of years ago. While I was thinking about peaceful, effective action, he jumped into his car, yelling, “Go back to where you came from! Show me your green card!”
I called over an apology for haoles acting badly to the attendant. She laughed, and said “Yeah, he doesn’t like Japanese, and he has too much money.”
“It’s okay. The funny thing is, I am Irish.” She laughed. “My grandmother is pure Hawaiian and my Grandfather is pure Irish. There is Portuguese in there also.”
The attendant is to be complimented on her cheerful attitude, and her aloha expressed as service. We laughed about the ignorance of visitors who don’t understand the culture or the people of the islands and don’t care to try. They damage the environment while enjoying a vacation, and don’t understand the art of courtesy and respect.
“Social courtesies are the lubricants that grease the wheels of a society,” my British mother taught us.
Each culture has its protocols, and all of them include respect. Many of the oldest traditions include generosity and hospitality to visitors. None of them include dishonor, rudeness and violent speech.
We all got here in different ways, boats, ships, jets or birth. Yet, every one of us is in the same boat now: Spaceship Earth, Island station, Kaua‘i.
The Heaven and Earth do not issue green cards. We all have the right to live, to love, to laugh and be respected. That is the way of Aaloha.
- 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.