Current Thoughts (Mostly Hawaii)

Narrative Building & Winning

One of the more fascinating things about the Kia’i/Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) protest movement has been the use of narrative building as if it was an element of war.  

Since even before the current standoff at Mauna Kea happened, there was a lot of work being done by the TMT opposition to create a narrative that went beyond just opposing the telescope. It went into Hawaiian history, Hawaiian perspectives on issues and even the plight of the Hawaiian in modern society. It blended a number of different elements into a story, and then when released, gained traction.

Don't Shoot
Passionate people have this type of drive on ideas.
“Don’t Shoot” by MTSOfan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Then with that narrative built, released it into the social media world where, as you know, those messages can take a life of their own. The mere fact that we are having a debate on whether any one place in this state is sacred or not, and having real passionate discussions about it, proves this point.

A lot of those stories, packaged together in easy to think of pieces, spoken by people who have titles like “Ph.D” or “Kumu” or “Kupuna” have indeed make a large impact on how the TMT is seen.

In many ways, the building of the “Narrative of the Mauna”, or whatever you want to call it, without any other voice to counter it, is winning the hearts and minds battle that this protest has become.

The Kia’i and the TMT opposition have successfully won a battle to define this place.
Picture by S. Fichtman – Aug. 2019

Therefore, ya’d think by now that the pro TMT groups – the only power to counter this narrative building by the Kia’i, would have figured this out by now and come out with messages to counter them point to point. Instead, their messages feel weak, not inspired, and not going toe to toe, challenging the Kia’i on their ideas.

So, in essence the Kia’i have already won a battle, this time of words. They took the high ground and influenced enough people to follow along with it. Make no mistake; this was not done by accident. The Kia’i who have done this had four years to put this together while TMT was busy re-applying for their building permit.

Whether or not this ends peacefully or not, it will be interesting to dissect how the Kia’i managed to create a narrative, have it stick and win the high ground on messaging with literally none of the traditional resources available – money and amplification. Maybe someone should do his or her Ph.D. dissertation on this.

9/11 + 18 & Never Forgetting

As the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States approached this year, my thoughts of a post were more along the lines of a recollection of what happened that day as many tend to share.

Then Sunday, the 8th came along, and the feeling of what 9/11 meant to me rushed right back to the forefront. It was through the news, and how certain people were reacting to it.

On Sunday, while tooling around town I was engaged in one of my Twitter discussions with acronym-filled named people. One of the stories that came up for comment was the pronouncement by President Trump that he had cancelled a secret meeting with the Afghan Government and the rebel Taliban.

For a little background, the meeting was supposed to finalize a peace treaty between the United States and the Taliban to allow American troops to eventually leave Afghanistan and end the longest war in American history.

Now if this were any other time of the year, and I mean any other, I would have been incredulous to the whole thing. But President Trump made it a point to have the Taliban – a group that provided shelter and help to Al Qaida in times before and after 9/11 – come to Washington DC in the same week as we remember the 2,700 + who died that day.

In a Tweet, a poster wrote “<expletive> wouldn’t it be nice if the president reached a peace pack (sp on them) with those bastards the week of 9/11??? But all you can do is see the negative. Ppl are still scared over that <expletive>. Maybe you should stop and see what this man is trying to do.”

I responded with something that came from way deep inside my soul: “You’ve just desecrated the memories of over 2,000 people who died on 9/11 and the 4,000 soldiers that died in the line of duty trying to put the Taliban, Al Qaida and the others who wanted to kill every American at that time.”

So in recapping, a purported defender of the President of the United States literally told me that his efforts in bringing in the same group that supported the killing of Americans, was a good thing and that we should take the opportunity and not be so scared.

Seriously, what?

There is no explanation that can be told to me that makes a visit by the Taliban to the United States, on the week of 9/11, a good thing. And what frightened me more about this exchange is that this person was not alone in backing up this idea.

Let me be clear, we must never forget what people and entities did to this country 18 years ago and never allow them the chance to re-write that history by having some sort of peace agreement be made. I don’t care if the deal was the best deal (it wasn’t by a long shot), we must never forget the souls of those who were taken away from us on that day. It’s even more important for me now to continue to inform, remind and sometimes argue for the remembering of their souls.

We must remember because the forces who want to rewrite and forget are on the move. Never forget.  

Voter apathy= voting in the retreads

Earlier this week I was speaking to people about the Mauna Kea/Kia’i/TMT issue that continues on to this day.

Will Mauna Kea/TMT/Kia’i create more voter apathy?

These are folks who are both working on the issue, as well as people who walk through the local KTA (a supermarket chain on the Big Island) listening to the chatter about this issue. So a diverse group of voices you will agree.

And for both sides, I will say that the stories they are telling me, from their perspective, make me want to give up caring. Here’s why.

For the friends who walks through KTA, they hear that people don’t like the standoff, but say it in such hushed tones so not to rile up those who are passionate about the Mauna. All fair and good, you don’t want to cause a fight in a supermarket considering how many weapons are at your disposal there. But outside of the passionate, it’s becoming apparent that people on the Big Island don’t see a solution to the standoff, and so feel that it’s a non-issue in their life anymore. That equates to not caring, anymore.

Now to the people that are working on this issue from a more authoritative standpoint, the view is even worse. While there is a lot of hope that Big Island Mayor Harry Kim can come up with some master stroke of solution to all this, as the weeks go on, they even know a rational solution is becoming less and less.

And then when you ask “so, what about the (Hawaii State) Legislature stepping in and holding a special session or something”, the answer back? “too many want (Hawaii Governor) Ige to fail.”

So now, with these two perspectives, we could walk away with these assumptions: 1. Leadership is non-existent and now choosing to sit back and play political games; and 2. The people on the ground watching from their perspective don’t see a solution, either, and thus have stopped caring for a large part.

Image result for clipart ballot box apathy
If leadership does not show up, we might not even get this level of participation at the ballot box in Hawaii

I will say that if the people stop caring about an issue while the leaders of this state mess around and play other games with this issue, the real victim here will be the percentage of voters going to the ballot box. Because as noted with both parties I spoke to, apathy can be felt all over.

And if you don’t know what apathy does to a state, just look at the retread politicians, who see that they may have a chance of redemption, announcing their intention to move into higher offices. They know that apathy lowers the voting count, and therefore inversely increases their chances. Because let’s face it, add enough apathy to the voting population, and all who vote are just party-line folks who are not critical thinkers.

And if we just have party and political robots voting, then we will get the retreads thinking that the “people love them”, but, in reality, all still hate them. Think about it.

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