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Author
Gathering Place
Robbie Alm

Thursday, August 11, 2005





‘A gift’

Editor's note: Robbie Alm delivered the remarks below during a rally Saturday in support of Kamehameha Schools' legal fight to retain its Hawaiians-only admission policy. Alm is Hawaiian Electric Co. senior vice president of public affairs.

A great harm has befallen our Hawaii. As you have heard, and as you know, a great harm has befallen Hawaiians.

And know this, a great harm has also befallen those of us who are not Hawaiian, and that harm comes not from the Kamehameha Schools admissions policy.

It comes from ill-conceived acts such as the recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision. That court somehow believes that it has vindicated my rights as a non-Hawaiian.

I say to the court, I need no vindication as I have no "right" involved here that needs to be addressed by you.

Stay away! I do not need you to force others to give me a gift I was not intended to receive.

I do not need you to force others to extend to me a very special aloha that was meant for others. This I do not need, nor do I want it.

And I do not feel "trammeled" by the Kamehameha Schools' admissions policy; but I do feel trammeled when such legalisms take precedence over the health of our islands' social fabric.

I do feel trammeled when such legalisms take precedence over the unique legacy of this Ali'i's gift to her people and ...

I do feel trammeled when such legalisms take precedence over the aloha which this gift embodies.

It should disturb us greatly, all of us, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian, when laws designed to lift the yoke of slavery from black Americans are used as weapons to harm native people.

It should disturb us greatly, all of us, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian, when law loses its sense of purpose, of higher values, and instead of nurturing and celebrating our special heritage, condemns it with the harsh and ugly words of civil rights violation.

And, it must disturb us greatly, all of us, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian, when instead of assisting us to engage in the critical struggle of reconciling two great heritages, the law instead feels compelled to diminish one as if that will somehow build a healthy and pono society.

They are wrong -- wrong on all counts.

I was born and raised on this island. As I grew up, classmates would leave our schools to attend the Kamehameha Schools.

I did not say "why can't I go?"

I did not. I did not say it because even as a child, I knew that there were plenty of other options available to me.

I did not say it because even as a child, I was taught by my parents and I knew that in life, we all receive gifts but not necessarily the same gifts, and that we should celebrate the gifts we receive, not covet the gifts of others.

I did not say it because even as a child, I knew that a princess of our land had made a choice on whom to bestow her gifts, and that was her choice to make.

And I did not say it because even as a child, I knew that Kamehameha Schools had a destiny to fulfill that involved my friends and their heritage in a way that did not involve me.

Even as a child, that was OK with me; and it remains OK with me today.

I have never felt a deprivation of any kind because I could not attend the Kamehameha Schools. Certainly I thought my friends blessed. But their blessing involved no loss on my part.

We all know that there is a serious tension that continues to exist between the laws of the United States and the legacy of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

That conflict is for some irreconcilable.

For others of us, however, reconciliation is a complex, difficult and yet essential task that requires large measures of mutual respect and understanding of our heritages.

This decision reflects no such understanding; it reflects in fact absence of respect. And for all its professions of doing right, it lacks greatness of spirit; it lacks aloha.

A gift is a gift is a gift.

We all need to honor the princess' gift just as she meant it to be honored.

The laws of the United States are great enough to recognize the importance of the unique Kamehameha Schools legacy. The Federal District Court in Hawaii and the dissenting opinion proves that to be true.

So let us join together, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian. To call upon our court system to live up to its highest purposes and values, and ...

To call upon our community to stand up for this special legacy and for the proposition that our very future, that of both Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian, depends upon honoring our unique history and the very special institutions that that heritage has given us.

Imua Kamehameha!



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