The President-Elect arrived on Oahu for a vacation while I was there. I spent Sunday talking with my old friends Chuck and Patt, and they filled me in on how proud the people are of their native son (Obama’s known locally as “Obomber” for his penchant for shooting 3-pointers on his high school basketball team). Chuck and Patt live down the road from the Obama’s rental house in Kailua.
The fact of Obama’s youth in Hawaii — and what that means in how he’ll govern — is missed by the press, because they don’t understand life in the islands.
Of all of the many peoples of the world, no group is like island people. On a piece of land where the roads don’t go very far, there exists a deep respect for each other, one that is born of the knowledge that your neighbor is a person you need.
In the Governor’s office in Hawaii sits a statue called “Island People.” It’s a wood carving with several humans sticking out of a small, mounded base. Its deep meaning is evident in the connectivity between the humans and the land.
The earth is an island, so we are all island people, although the size of our globe makes that hard to see.
Obama’s Hawaii is a collection of every size, shape, race and creed. I’ve often said that every Caucasian should live in Hawaii for awhile to get a glimpse of life without a “majority” race.
Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and lived formative years in the midst of island people. To Hawaiians, he’s just another hapa haoli, a mixed breed, just like nearly everybody else. The extent to which this cultural grounding influences his decision-making is significant, because we have never known it before. One tends to view the world differently as an island person, and this will escape the notice of the press, except, of course, in Hawaii, where they’re proud as hell that a keiki oâ€™ka aina (child of the land) is bound for the White House.
Everybody here may think that the story of his being a man of African descent is the history being made with Barack Obama, but his internal governor is more that of an island person than anything else.
It will be fascinating to watch.