My brother is the third generation of Kamiya farmers to take over the farm. As a eager young person, he had his own ideas of how the farm should be run and how he should do things. My dad insisted on him learning the “tried and true” ways of doing things first but my brother decided to forge his own path, somewhat ignoring long timed learned lessons in farming. Being the patient guy my dad is, he decided, “Okay, you can learn your own way and find out for yourself.” Before long, after a short lived path of doing it “my way,” my brother came back to my dad and said it didn’t work. My dad knew that it would happen like that because he himself did that with his dad.
My dad is now widely known in our state as the papaya king of sorts because of all the expertise he has developed over the years. He is also a respected leader in the community and serves on some agricultural advisory boards to help develop future practices for farming. As I’ve had the chance to meet people who know him, they speak so highly of him and really respect him for his work and leadership. He’s worked hard to get where he is and had a strong vision as a young farmer as to where he wanted agriculture to go in our state and beyond. From his early days in his early 20’s to well into his 70’s, he’s still going strong as a leader and voice for agriculture in Hawaii. I’d have to say that 50 years is a pretty sustainable career!
As I think back on that story with my brother and learning my dad’s story of his path, I can’t help but think that we really do need to know our roots to remember how we will make decisions for the future. If we want to continue my dad’s legacy and leadership, we have to know him and what he has done. The further I ponder this issue, I realize that this idea of being a great leader and carrying on the torch also means the leaders too must know those who came before them. A leader that we should really take consideration of is the late Senator Inouye and how he shaped the Hawaii we live in now.
The people of Hawaii are deeply indebted to the late Senator Daniel Ken Inouye. He was a visionary man that sought to keep our state at the forefront of our nation when it came to high technology, the military, agriculture, and astronomy, research and education. He wanted Hawaii to be at the top of things when it came to these issues and sought to it that it would happen here. He had a vision for our state and saw to it that it would become a reality.
When asked about what he wished for when it came to his successors, this is what he stated in a interview with Hawaii Business News back in 2009.
“To the extent possible, I hope they would carry out the programs I felt would be helpful in establishing a healthy economy in Hawaii,” he says. “Hawaii should be an important part of the national picture.”
On December 17, 2012, we lost this great leader and have not found that true successor to his legacy in the current environment. We now have his appointed replacement, Senator Brian Schatz, making secession like statements of “home rule,” and Representative Tulsi Gabbard seeking to legislate a label against the very technology that Inouye sought to support in Hawaii. On the lower level of governments, we have legislators like Representative Kaniela Ing, Representative Jessica Wooley, and Senator Russell Ruderman talking about home rule and fear mongering over biotech and leveling attacks against agricultural issues. On the county level, Council members like Margaret Wille, Brenda Ford, Gary Hooser, Tim Bynum, and even Mayor Billy Kenoi enacting laws that ultimately hurt future research and agricultural advances in our state that will affect the very research center that was renamed after him. Even his own party, there was talk of being anti-technology in their environmental caucus discussions. I find it very sad that this is has all happened in just the two years that he passed away. Have our leaders all forgotten the legacy of this man?
“I wanted to carry on activities that would bring all the Islands together.”
Senator Inouye was all about collaboration between entities and people. He stated that he wanted to link the neighbor islands together and strengthen the ties within our state. He focused on projects that helped to attain this with fiber optic links, the Maui super computer, star gazing facilities on Mauna Kea and Haleakala, and the Pacific Missile Range on Kauai. I somehow wonder what he’d be saying if he started hearing the talk of “home rule,” the very thing that he worked against in our islands. (Home rule was something that another great leader fought against, King Kamehameha.)
Great leaders with a clear vision are not subject to trends of the moments and activism. Senator Inouye was not one of these leaders, which is why he was able to sustain his leadership and build the Hawaii he wanted. Not everyone agreed with his programs and stances, however, he used best practices and researched where technology was going and stood his ground. He stood up against the critics and carried on to achieve that goal he had in mind for Hawaii since he knew that is what needed to be done. He neither pandered to voters either when it came to controversial issues. Evidence, logic, and reasoning was his guide, not popular opinions.
In our current political scheme, I just don’t see the kind of visionary person or leader stepping into the big shoes of Senator Inouye. Very few are able to create a vision of what they want for Hawaii and jump on the various issues without any clear goals or a direction to lead from, other than trying to win votes with the rhetoric of “I’m making Hawaii better.” They will repeat that they see the “big picture” but talk from a minuscule position showing their ignorance of how every issue is interdependent on each other. I’ve been taught my my dad to remember my roots as that will guide me for the future. Our future leaders too must remember our Hawaii roots of who came before and lead in that same way if we are to know where we are going and how we will get there.