Army officer put others' lives ahead of his own
THE Hawaiian Issues Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii is compelled to respond to the stories carried June 7
and 8 in the Star- Bulletin
, regarding Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada and his decision to refuse participation in the war in Iraq.
"Courageous" and "brave" are words that might be used to describe this man's actions, or perhaps he exhibits "courage under fire" as, for him, the fire is still to come and courage will be required to brave the battle at home, still to be fought. Pono actions have consequences that must, somehow, contribute to the betterment of the world, even as those who step forward to do what is right suffer for their boldness.
As a caucus devoted to Hawaiian issues in a state that has, except for a few courageous individuals, turned a blind eye to how our way of life has promoted theft, war and destruction on those who live far away, we say, with greatest respect and concern, mahalo to one man whose naau has called him, and caused him to put himself in harm's way, rather than to perpetuate more harm on others.
What does this action have to do with us, members of the caucus, who have never met Lt. Watada, nor even heard of him before these articles appeared? He is the living proof that not everybody is "ha-ole" -- lacking the breath of life. His breath lives in his actions.
The Hawaiian Issues Caucus is based on certain principles rooted in Hawaiian tradition and passed on to all of us who call Hawaii home: aloha, kuleana, malama aina, hookipa, pono. We adopted these guidelines because we are OF Hawaii. This land speaks to us. It calls us to care for all of the aina, all of the kai, the lani, the people, everything in Hawaii, and by extension the rest of the world, that nurtures us and helps us rise above the petty, tyrannical and ponoole behaviors that cause damage in somebody else's hale. These values call us to replicate ancient ways of living in harmony with all things. And while neither our ancestors nor those of us living today were/are perfect, we strived then, as now, to live a life of respect toward all things, mindful of the harm our life choices may inflict on others. The challenge is to live the life that allows reflection at death that it was a life well-lived, and that we did not purposely do harm to others. What we practice here is carried with us to all corners of the world. If it is "ha-ole" here, it is definitely without breath or merit elsewhere.
Watada might not yet be in a position to think about life's final review. He might not be at death's bed. But it is obvious to those of us who try to do what is right, to not blindly follow, to live a life of pono, that his choice to do no harm puts him in the seat of the ancients, whose love for all things of nature, of heaven and earth, allowed us to be here today, alive and choosing the proper path, aligning ourselves with what is pono. Watada is in synch with life. E malama kakou me ka maluhia a me ka pono. E kuu pono, aole pau.
Lynette Cruz is chairwoman of the Hawaiian Issues Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.