Farmers Are the Musicians of the Earth


Longevity runs in our genes and a few weeks ago, our family celebrated the 100th birthday of a great uncle.  As part of his birthday celebration, we were treated to an Okinawan taiko performance.

It’s really thrilling and mesmerizing to hear the rhythmic pounding of the drums.  There’s a lot of choreography, planning, and practice involved in a single piece.  Each drummer has his or her own certain drum or instrument to play at a certain time.  Everyone has a role to play at a certain time.  When it’s all coordinated, the piece comes together to make a beautiful performance.

As I watched each piece being played, I couldn’t help but think about how this is a simple metaphor of music and farming.  Very few people have a special talent and dedication to play for the masses but yet everyone enjoys having music in their lives on a daily basis.  It’s an essential part of what brings us happiness.

Like music, every person has a role and responsibility to play at various phases in their lives.  We can choose what instrument we want to play as part of this ensemble.  Some don’t even know how to play music at all but will listen to it.  The ones who want to make music take on a lifetime dedication.  They have a strong inner drive to learn that instrument well individually to develop a skill.  A single musician can play a few songs, but people really enjoy a variety of pieces at various times of their lives.  A singer can only sing without instruments for sometime before audiences get tired of it.  Eventually, the individuals desire to come together with mutual respect and cooperation in learning how to make even a richer sound.  Lots of practicing is needed as an ensemble to develop perfection for a formal presentation for your audiences.

The styles and sounds of music are also ever changing, just like farming.  Nothing is static as there are many different ways of playing instruments and even singing.  In Hawaii, we have traditional sounds of chanting to falsetto or even modern styles including a mixture of all the above.  With the introduction of the Portuguese came the ukulele that changed the songs we hear to this day.   We treasure the old sounds as well as the new sounds.

The technologies around farming isn’t much different either where the musicians of the earth can select which instrument they want and use their expertise to compose their masterpieces with.  There’s no one single way the music can be made.

The farmers are all the performers in these respective bands.  Each has their own skill and role to play.  If each member doesn’t take the time to practice or develop the right skills or some only focus on pointing fingers at how bad certain members are, how can that piece ever become mesmerizing and beautiful? It just can’t if there is no desire to work together to create an array of melodies for their eager audiences.

The leaders of the ensemble really have the hard job of maintaining its members and keeping people engaged and wanting to be a part of the band.  The members themselves must also support each other to stay focused.  As members age, they must look to the youth to develop a skill and spark a fire within them to pursue being a part of the band.  The band is only as strong and as sustainable as there is a desire to be a part of it.  Without new members, the ensemble numbers will dwindle and end.

The performers are supported by the conductors, the farm bureaus and our leaders, who help to launch and sustain the careers of their members.  Not only does the leadership have its musical recruiters using the strengths of its members, but there are also conductors who also provide the backbone for the musical direction.  That is our mayor and senators who help to provide strong leadership to guide the band as well as the public in supporting the longevity of the music.  Without them setting the example for the public, the band’s music can never be heard or enjoyed.  If they don’t support the music, then neither will the audiences as they set the example to others.

A concert can never be heard by the masses without a venue to perform in.  That takes many people to set it up and organize it.  There are heavy machinery folks, agricultural suppliers, construction materials, auto shops for vehicle maintenance, accountants and health insurers, marketing people and the stores to sell their products.  Many hands are working together to share our music to the world.

If the audience would like to partake in these performances everyone is welcomed.  Majority of their supporters are the ones who enjoy what’s being provided to them and are a gracious audience.  They can’t sit at a performance and tell the musicians what to play and how to play their melodies because they realize that they aren’t skilled enough to do the same.  It would be a terribly disruptive concert for those who appreciate the musicians efforts because they don’t like to pieces that might be new and unfamiliar to them.  Some audience members may be inspired to start their own band and play their own music if they choose at their time and place.  It’s a music that can be played but not in the same hall at the same time.

We have the potential in Hawaii to become a beautiful ensemble if we nurture it.  We have people who are doing the hard work of developing that great masterpiece.  A band is only as good as its strength in collaborating and taking responsibility for oneself.  It takes many to put on a concert for the masses to enjoy by a very few skilled individuals.  If we don’t continually support those skilled folks, we stand to lose an important piece of what makes Hawaii beautiful and unique.

Hawaii has its own unique music and sounds that many of us have learned to enjoy and grew up with.  There are people who haven’t learned to appreciate that music and adamantly refuse to learn the melodies we love and cherish.  Some farmers are using new instruments and trying out new songs that are reaching the masses faster.  Some farmers prefer the old ways to make their concerts. Their audiences have choices in the concert they want to watch.

Right now in Hawaii and in our communities, there are audience members who have taken on a very misguided role in the making of music.  They’ve decided to go on the Internet and spread disparaging remarks and share false information against certain musicians to get more crowds for themselves.  They’ve taken to not making music but heckling those who are trying to play their songs.  Some politicians have even sided with these ungrateful people who partake in the music but still criticize those playing it.  These people don’t encourage others even try to learn how to play the songs of our farmers or even desire to listen to those cherished ways.  Don’t let that few hecklers and those politicians in the audience forever change the music of our islands.  Leaders don’t shut minds down to experiences or use fear as an instrument to lead from. They take charge of opening minds and inspiring others to think outside the box and create their own music to share with the world and share that passion to do the same.

I want to hear all the music in harmony.   I want to hear all kinds of music and support all those talented musicians of the land.  Will you join me in supporting the musicians of Hawaii, the farmers? Let the music play in harmony and collaborate to showcase that beauty of Hawaii farms.  I want my children and their children to know those melodies of the Hawaii I love.  If we don’t help support and nurture these ways, we stand to live in silence forever.

The Future of Hawaii Can’t Rest in a Protest

  
Once again, the anti-TMT, anti-GMO, anti-everything folks are going to protest yet again.  This time, their groups have united to “protect” Hawaii.  They have decided to “malama the aina” and “protect the mauna” and save agricultural lands.  These folks can stay really busy doing all three.

I can’t help but remember the pleading cries of mothers and others who testified at multiple hearings over the last several years.  They accused the seed farms and farmers of “poisoning” their children and making them sick.  They pleaded with the legislators to protect them by enacting disclosure laws, buffer zones, and bans of biotech farms.  Many of these folks still claim that they are sick and attribute it to farms despite the fact that the evidence doesn’t support it.  The campaign by the anti-groups indeed were successful even without data.

If the “protectors” really care about these folks, why are they so busy fundraising for plane tickets and bail money?  I’ve seen so many gofundme accounts set up to raise money but not a single dime is going towards the alleged sicknesses that they claim of over and over.  They aren’t even funding testing of people either to confirm the source of their health claims.  

This activism also has its roots in anti-corporate attitudes but they actively make use of those services only provided by the very people they distrust.  The activists decry money and greed but then go out and seek money themselves to fund their cause.

   

 
The activists talk about not wanting outside influences having a say in Hawaii but then join with the Washington, DC based Center for Food Safety group.  This group is nothing close to being local at all and has created more wasting of our resources in the name of the malama the aina battle cries.  They can fund plane tickets but sure can’t pay back the counties for the costs of court proceedings on badly written laws.  

  

Can no one see the inconsistencies of these groups’ messages here?  They talk about this concept of “malama,” which means to care but then their actions show the complete opposite!  Imagine how much jet fuel and gas is used to bring people to Waikiki for a day of protest.  Couldn’t that time and money be better spent by cleaning a beach or helping the homeless?

If they want to keep the Mauna sacred, how about throwing the bail money and plane ticket fares towards the education fund instead? Replace what you plan to take away.  Create a realistic business plan to help stimulate the economy there with all the opportunities that will be lost.  The thousands of dollars used could feed the hungry or buy school books for those needy schools.

Last year, a Hawaiian civic group raised money and used it to purchase school planners for my daughter’s 4th grade class.  That indeed is a worthwhile cause to help educate children and helps the schools out so much.  Why aren’t these groups marching to raise funds for those underserved areas on the Big Island? Where’s the giving spirit for the keiki? Teach them how to care for the aina with education and not transient protests.

If people are really sick from farms, stop paying Vandana Shiva $40k per talk or ask her to donate it to care for these illnesses.  The Center for Food Safety paid a nice sum of money for the misinformation manual they sent out but didn’t donate anything back to the county for any court costs.  If they care so much for people, they’d spend our resources wisely.  

  
Our leader in Washington can’t even grasp the technology being adopted to help farmers grow food.  Representative Gabbard doesn’t even realize that by bring anti-GMO means she wants farmers around the world to use old, more toxic crop protection products.  She actually is supporting the pesticide companies in developing countries by blocking the adoption of biotech crops as they are separate entities there from the agribusiness companies.  Nor does she even bother to tell her constituents the real name of the law or disclose her political funding from the organic industry.  She fails to educate others that the regulation around GE crops was in the federal level after 3 county laws were invalidated.  Like former State Representative Jessica Wooley, who said there were no regulations on biotech crops, Representative Gabbard also has a hard time with the truth.    

So once again, the battle cries will start up in Waikiki, the center of the Hawaii they don’t want.  Little do they realize that by blocking farms, the land will be paved over and forever changed.  By blocking a telescope, they send a message to the youth that you can’t come back to Hawaii to pursue a careers in science and technology because the loudest minority will squash your dreams.  Our leaders too can’t see the unintended consequences of caving to all of their demands.  

As a parent, I don’t give in to my kids’ hissy fits.  By giving in to these fits, it only encourages more of it and encourages bad behavior.  Kids are prone to bad behavior and have to learn what is and isn’t appropriate.  The issues in Hawaii must be dealt with using a realistic vision and high expectations.  Using emotions to guide policy harms all of us and lowers the expectations.  It’s time for our leaders to demand this of those who want to be an integral part of policymaking.  If our leaders don’t stick to that vision, we stand to all lose.  My kids will never be able to have that bright future in Hawaii if we can’t even have leaders leading us on that path.  

I did notice that they used the Hawaiian proverb, “Pupukahi I Holomua.” It literally means to move together in one direction.  These groups are moving together backwards and not even making an attempt to work with anyone else in any issue which is clear.  It’s about what they want and not about working with anyone else.  They refuse to come to the table unless they get exactly what they want.  

I want our leaders to stick with a vision to make Hawaii better and be brave to make hard decisions in the best interest of everyone. Listening to the squeakiest wheel is distracting us from  becoming a better place.  We need those leaders now to stand up for our island state if we want a real future for our kids.  I’m a mom and that’s what I want.  Who’s listening to me?

The Beauty of Change

  
A few weeks ago, I headed down to the farm with my kids.  My dad decided that he was fed up with having farm property stolen and set out to put up a fence to hopefully deter thieves.  I decided that I better help out so I made my way there.

For a man in his mid 70’s, I am always amazed at my dad’s strength and agility.  He can pick up those 60 lb. bags of concrete like nothing and mixes it away with his hoe in the wheelbarrow.  He has his own plan on how he wants it all done, so I was the apprentice.  He had already dug the holes for the posts the day before and even aligned it all up already.  I helped with setting the poles and cleaning up.  

 
It’s really sad to think that the place I grew up isn’t the same place as it used to be.  The thought of people stealing wasn’t a huge deal as it is now.  We could trust the folks that lived around here and everyone watched out for each other for the most part.  It’s no longer like that.  

  
As I walked around the field, I started to notice the things around me from a simple rock to an old coconut.   The worn river rock was smooth from years of being exposed to the elements and lichen started to grow on it.  

  
The old coconut had its fibrous husk starting to fall away, leaving the nut loose.  Both the rock and coconut had changed in form over time.  

As I thought about this more, it is only natural that things change.  The way we live, eat, grow, and learn are all subject to change over time.  In our day to day living with hustle and bustle on modern lifestyles, I feel we sometimes miss out on observing those little things around us.  When life goes past us in a blur, some people long for the simpler days.

The culture of the moment is to reject every modern and new and go back to the old days that were perceived to be better.  Despite having so many conveniences, many people are desiring to return to old ways.  Some people do this by getting pierced or tattooed in traditional ways.  There are even old native practices being started up on Mauna Kea.  Some get into farming the old ways in an attempt to live like we did centuries ago.  Other people reject vaccines and medicines to go back to natural cures as a means of treating afflictions.  Whatever the case, modern life has many missing for the past.

There are things I do long for in the past but to want to turn back the hands of time is indeed unnatural.  Everything changes and it’s inevitable. In the environment, things change as well and there’s no stopping it at times.  To try and wrestle back to decades gone by is futile, however, we can take the good things from it and incorporate it into the present.

  
We can’t always save living things forever.  It may return but in a new form but still bring us the same meaning as it did before.  Whatever the issue may be, the past does live within all of us and provides lessons for how we act in the present and the future.  Learning how to adapt to change and realize what true progress really means.  I embrace the beauty of change but use the past as my guide for the future.