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Captain Molokai

Fight to preserve Molokai remains the same, 20 years later.

In 1988, a mystery writer who called himself Captain Molokai, began writing a regular column in the Molokai Dispatch. The author wrote editorials that were as honest and factual as they were outspoken and critical of corporate control of Molokai land. Two decades later, this individual still lives on Molokai and continues his fight to keep Molokai, Molokai.

Although the following Captain Molokai article was written more than 20 years ago, its message more than applies to present day concerns on Molokai.

Aloha! I’m Captain Molokai. I’ve been on Molokai longer than most people would believe, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Molokai is the best place in the United States, maybe the world, to live, work and raise a family.

There is a lot of love, a lot of caring; a lot of sharing; a lot of spiritual energy; a lot of neighbor helping neighbor; and a lot of other good things we value but sometimes take for granted.

You hear a lot of talk about jobs and progress, but most of that talk doesn’t focus on the quality of those jobs, how many jobs are needed, or what progress means to Molokai, and what impact that progress has on the current lifestyle that families enjoy so much.

What does progress mean on Molokai? Does it mean haphazard uncontrolled growth? One hotel? 5 hotels? A traffic light? A Burger King? More condos? More Crime? An exclusive country club playground for the world’s rich and famous?

Progress on Molokai, some say means controlled growth at the local level; preserving community traditions; creating a more diverse economy; promoting better and more meaningful job situations; maintaining affordable housing for future generations; protecting our ocean and other natural resources; and providing our children with higher education opportunities.

The three basic groups that Capt. Molokai is referring to are: 1. BIG FOREIGN LAND OWNERS: This group includes Molokai Ranch, Tokyo Kosan, Bishop Estate, and the boys from New York that bought Murphy Ranch. 2. A FEW MOLOKAI LANDOWNERS AND BUSINESSES. 3. NEWCOMERS TO MOLOKAI: These are the ones who come to Molokai and say they are in love with the Friendly Isle. However, as soon as they get here they want to change Molokai so they can enjoy many of the conveniences they had on the mainland.

At this point, the strategies of what I see as three basic, self-serving groups with their own agendas are to 1) develop plans they intend to pursue with token input from the Molokai community; 2) build support for those plans away from Molokai by using their influence, or “connected” high priced lawyers, to lobby the Governor and State agencies on Oahu or the Mayor and County Department heads on Maui; and 3) once everything is in place, then come back to Molokai and use the old “divide and conquer” routine which is to throw a few crumbs or some money to a few people or groups on Molokai in an effort to buy support for their project knowing that community members will end up fighting among each other.

Capt. Molokai is not anti-growth; he’s just concerned with who is going to determine Molokai’s growth rate, and how that growth will be allowed to impact those unique tangible and intangible values that Molokai is still lucky enough to have.

Don’t sell out for the quick fix. It hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work now.

The various Molokai factions, and those community members who have something to say but tend not to get involved, are all going to have to come together and agree on where they want the community to go, and make that position known real clear to the big-time guys rollin’ into Molokai. If the community doesn’t take the lead, then the aggressive investor groups will inherit the power to determine the direction of Molokai’s future based on their values, and not our values.


2 Responses to “Captain Molokai”

  1. Francobenz says:

    I see why they call you the captain, now is your time. You are Re-Born. Give em hell man.

  2. Manoakua says:

    “Progress on Molokai, some say means controlled growth at the local level; preserving community traditions; creating a more diverse economy; promoting better and more meaningful job situations; maintaining affordable housing for future generations; protecting our ocean and other natural resources; and providing our children with higher education opportunities.”

    On the basis of that sterling summary, it is my feeling that the Molokai Hui Nalu should summarily promote “‘Captain’ Molokai” to the rank of ‘Admiral’, for in that single paragraph are to be found all of the goals and objectives that I would deem to be both substantial and central to the question of where the island needs to direct its efforts, in the wake of MRP’s withdrawal as the primary economic force on the island.

    In my opinion, the finest and most worthy legacy of the ancient Hawaiian culture is its sense of collectivity. In the old culture, the collective nature of communal life found its highest form of expression in the ‘Aloha Spirit’: that is, the attitude of everyone sharing responsibility for the good of everyone else.

    Often casually mentioned in passing, there is more to the ‘Aloha Spirit’ than simply two words spoken together. Oahu’s Auntie Rell Kapolioka’ehukai Sunn once memorably characterised the traditional sense of Hawaiian communality like this: “The aloha spirit is real simple. You give and you give and you give… and you give from here (the heart), until you have nothing else to give.” In her case, as a strong spirited and courageous woman of Hawaiian, Chinese, and Irish descent, she did indeed give until she had nothing left to give… It is a lesson in giving that we all need to be mindful of, I feel.

    Today, despite the fact that Molokai has become so diverse in so many ways, there is still a great need for the island to come together in a collective spirit of cooperation and love to determine the best way of moving forward. Until that unity is fully achieved, it is, in my opinion, a time for renewed giving (from the heart) to all who need help in this difficult time.

    In ancient China, the Chinese ideogram for ‘danger’ consists of two smaller ideograms, one that represents ‘change’ and the other that represents ‘opportunity’. The present circumstances that the island faces are indeed part ‘change’ and part ‘opportunity’. Within that context, the departure of MRP that is the present ‘change’ represents an unparalleled ‘opportunity’ for coverting that ‘change’ into a comprehensive benefit from which all may share.

    This is a time to put small and large differences of opinion and attitude aside (such as the La’au divisiveness) and come together humbly, with determination and spirit to set a new course for the island. It will require a return to that same spirit of ancient collectivity that so well suited the kanaka maoli of the islands before the coming of the Christian missionaries. It will require open-mindedness, broadened vision, and imagination, among other qualities, but above all it will require a communal sense of collectivity and a feeling that all on the island (no matter who they are, or what their racial or ethnic background) are part of a greater overall ‘ohana.

    ‘Admiral Molokai’ certainly seems to have had the right vision, back in 1988, and it is amazing how prescient that vision still is, these 20 years later. Let’s us hope that others who read his words will feel similarly and that we may start to achieve that collective sense of optimal benefit for everyone on ‘Molokai nui a Hina’ that the times of ‘change’ call out for.

    Malama pono! Aloha kakou!

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