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Letter: Why Hawaii Needs Molokai

Ask people to share their opinion about Molokai and you’ll likely to hear a range of responses as vast and diverse as the Pacific itself. Some have chastised the island and its small population for their rejection of modernization and development. Some have lauded them for it.

I will say now that I find Molokai the most wonderful place in the world.

And all of Hawaii needs it. We need Molokai to stay Molokai.

The purity and rugged honesty of Molokai surely once existed everywhere in Hawaii. It now survives only in rare kipuka, or small pockets of biocultural sanctuaries, throughout the islands. People don’t walk around Molokai buried in their smart phones like they do in Honolulu. They don’t rush to tweet or Facebook the banal details of their lives. They look up as they walk around. They engage with one another. They wave while driving by each other. It is life as once lived, and I dare say it is a better life.

But this is not why Hawaii needs Molokai.

Hawaii needs Molokai to remind us all that it is action that counts.

Talk is cheap on Molokai. And it doesn’t get you far. Nowhere else in Hawaii is there a better system of social accountability. Nowhere else in Hawaii is community justice more quickly and efficiently carried out. Nowhere do they better protect their land and resources.

I am blessed beyond measure for the time I have spent there and what I have learned from that aina and its kupuna. It has gifted me an awe of community organization and an indelible appreciation for Hawaii’s native biocultural treasures.

Hawaii would be a much better place had we all been a little more like Molokai.

I only hope it is not too late to restore some of what we have lost.

Trisha Kehaulani Watson, JD, PhD


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