DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
What in the world did the Polynesian word “Ea” mean before it was politicized by “native Hawaiians” to mean the sovereignty of their kings? The dictionary definition claims that, first of all, the word means “sovereignty,” in the context of “the (Ea) of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”
Only after that, may Ea mean “life,” “air,” “breath,” “spirit,” and so on. Nonetheless, the typical native Hawaiian identity of “life” with their own, racially biased rule of the islands naturally predominates, regardless of the fact that some of the most vigorous proponents of racial independence from “haoles,” a pejorative for white foreigners, are themselves “hapa haoles,” that is, of mixed race, hence are plagued by personal insecurity, which is, of course, naturally blamed on foreigners.
As a result of the prevalent identity crisis, which is by no means unique within a Westernized society besieged by rampant egoism, the assimilated “natives” sorely lack political solidarity and cultural unity, as is evident in perpetual cycles of recrimination and self-denigration within their councils and by malicious gossip on social media such a Facebook.
Wherefore Ea, interpreted as the struggle for independence from others, rather than aloha, the spirit of love for others, wins out, even among mutual admiration groups engaged in the worship of their “beautiful genealogies.” And the spirits of aloha as well as Ea, those words being Hawaiian, are naturally considered as the private property of anyone with native blood as well as would-be natives.
The phrase “the (Ea) of the land is perpetuated in righteousness” became the motto of the English-style monarchy which self-righteous missionaries helped the original Hawaiian aristocracy fashion as the missionaries helped themselves to the land and impoverished the ordinary natives who would be decimated time and again by foreign diseases and habits because, according to the missionary charters back East, missionaries wanted to save ignorant “savages” or “heathen” from material and spiritual poverty. The motto was retained by the American territorial republic after Ea was “stolen” from the original Hawaiians by “thieving whites,” and is presently the motto of the American State of Hawaii.
The United States became more than willing to assist with that task, with easy access to sugar and the strategic value of Pearl Harbor in mind. The British were interested, but given the unprofitable venture in the American colony and the complete loss of sovereignty to the revolution there, they were not willing to invest in sovereignty over the Sandwich Islands. When a renegade English captain by the name of Paulet seized the sovereignty of the king, England handed it back with an apology, and the king of Hawaii said, according to the interpretation of today’s sovereignty activists, “The (EA) of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”
Sovereignty activists who harken back to the defunct kingdom tend to overlook the fact that the chiefs and paramount chief of the biggest island, after which the Sandwich Islands are now named, being fearful for the maintenance of their rule, once gave their sovereignty over the island to Britain; upon which sailors planted the British flag on shore as the chiefs chanted Hail Britannia. Nor do they fain recall that King Kamehameha the Great, having all the islands under his sway after waging brutal warfare and pushing opposed troops off a cliff to pacify them, wrote a letter to King George of England subjecting Hawaiians to British sovereignty.
Think again. England was not about to protect Hawaii from other nations without substantial rewards for doing so in the form of taxes, trade, and conquest, and the chiefs certainly would not appreciate British rule.
Time does not stand still. Things change. What was then was then, and what is now is now. We would forgive our fathers for their wrongs and celebrate their righteousness even though progress is somewhat impeded by the fact that the son is the father of the man, and that, regardless of liberal political theories, fathers rule families hence to some degree chiefs rule tribes and clans, kings countries, governors states, presidents corporations, dictators soviet unions, so on and so forth. In other words, humankind naturally organizes itself hierarchically from simple to complex; fathers, paters are the foundation of patriotism.
Hawaii is now a state, so get used to it, for it is the best of all possible states notwithstanding silent racism and internal bickering. If the interpretation of the motto is true, that sovereignty over a land by the ultimate landlord depends on the righteousness of the sovereign, then the fact that the United States has power over Hawaii is right until its leaders are by revolution overthrown for abuses of power; and then the successors can keep the same motto to assert their own form of righteousness.
Native Hawaiians, who may call themselves kanaka maoli, real men, meaning native people, sometimes politically defined as those people who have a certain quota of blood of the people who lived on the islands before the arrival of Captain Cook, and who lived there for some time thereafter, are divided among themselves as to what to do about the fact that their king’s kingdom along with the land they worked, the very basis of their wealth in common, was taken from them with the help of kings who helped themselves.
A few pure-blooded kanakas remain. The hapas or “half” breeds are many; but the hapas may not be “half,” anymore; they are perhaps from the stock of several “races” or cultures. They are exceedingly beautiful, but they have been discriminated against, and they discriminate among themselves. Still, elements of the Hawaiian culture survive, so they are not yet hopelessly mixed up. Many of them are patriotic citizens and are relatively happy with the way things are now, as if being Hawaiian in the State of Hawaii were the optimal state at the moment. Others are catching up with the haoles (foreigners, whites) but are not so happy. They are in two camps.
We have natives who want at least parity in terms of the benefits received by the original people on the mainland, the Native Americans or American Indians; that would be the self-government or sovereignty, of a so-called nation-within-a-nation status, with land reserved for their exclusive use. They believe they deserve something “extra” as compensation for the suffering of their ancestors, a certain percentage of whose blood flows in their veins according to genealogical studies, at the hands of the whites, whose culture the old chiefs admired and adopted for their own uses because its power appeared to be superior to their own at the time.
On the other hand we have locals including whites who desire absolute sovereignty. They want the kingdom back, or rather they have formed an ideal Kingdom of Hawaii on paper; it appears to have established sovereignty over a website named after the old name of Kauai, Atooi; the island that voluntarily submitted to King Kamehameha the Great after he conquered Oahu. The virtual Kingdom of Hawaii has detailed plans for its monarchy.
At issue, of course, for all those concerned, is what sort of government would in reality be constituted if its proponents have their way. Would it be government be one, a few, or many? Would it be an absolute or a limited monarchy, or a representative republic, or a democracy, or a mixed government?
The last monarch was Liliuokalani, who became queen when her brother, King Kalakaua, died. He was a member of aristocracy, elected king after King William Lunalilo died without an heir and without naming a successor, and was considered by nobility to be of lower caste than his predecessors. The royal government was basically managed by white foreigners. King Kalakaua was coerced into approving a change from absolute to limited monarchy. Queen Liliuokalani proposed to restore the form of the old regime and therefore sovereignty to the native elite; wherefore, even though she desisted with that plan, thirteen whites associated with the cane sugar business boom, with troops standing conveniently by, with plans to cede the islands to the United States, got her to resign her sovereignty in trust to the United States, and she never got it back despite the sympathy of President Grover Cleveland.
Members of the sovereignty movement will not submit to any status subordinate to the United States, and so have been a stumbling block for those who want “extra” rights under the wing of Uncle Sam; that is, benefits not had by other citizens of the United States. Those others may love the Hawaiian culture very much, but they have their culture too, and do not believe they should be trumped by the principle of seniority.
I asked several leaders of the sovereignty movement what unique quality of spirit the native Hawaiian culture has to contribute to the world, and what the meaning of Ea was before or besides sovereignty. I thought the Aloha Spirit, the Hawaiian version of Love, might be their contribution, but I was greeted with utter silence.
The camp struggling for an entity to be recognized by the United States as a self-governing nation within the American nation greeted me with “Aloha” and “Mahalo” for asking. Wherefore it occurred to me that the divide between the camps may be between arrogance and humility, between would-be kings and nobles, and ordinary people destined to suffer the leaders they suffer.
But then a leading member of the nativity camp, who is of mixed descent, grew weary of my several polite questions about the historical basis of her circles’ version of culture and the form of government it desired for its “self-governed” nation within the United States, whereupon she publicly denounced me, declaring that I was a “flippant and insulting” person, and withdrew her version of aloha because she doubted that I would contribute anything to her cause.
As for the future of a Hawaiian monarchy, it is highly improbable short of a nuclear apocalypse that there will ever be a Kingdom of Hawaii reigning over the Hawaiian Islands. What good is a paper kingdom or a website kingdom?
Well, an ideal or spiritual kingdom as opposed to a real and material kingdom may come to rule minds and thus have an impact on the behavior of bodies. Sovereignty itself implies the rule of mind over body.
A beautiful woman, by the way, has posed in a national publication to celebrate personal “Ea” as a most powerful word to be enjoyed by all. She is sovereign over her body, and let no man think he owns it. Groups or corporations including nations considered as persons have their Ea as well.
Ea considered as sovereignty asserts independence. Alas for egoism that independence depends on the cooperation of other independents, and that bodies are subject to mechanical laws; and minds as well if bodies and minds are really one. Free will, if there be such a thing, is a limited monarchy. Nothing and only Nothing is absolutely free from something.
The “I” and the “We” are inseparable. No individual or group is entirely independent. Sovereignty is slipping away from interdependent nations to a globalism without a definite sovereign, despite regressions along the spiral such as that we are now seeing, for example, in England, and in the United States, which has fallen into the twenties on the scale of democracy.
Despite the clash between native nationalism and cosmopolitan modernity, the postmodern devolution into tribalism, international corporations rule the globe, and their internal rule is not democratic. National borders are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Sovereignty depends on information, and the information business rules minds. As it is on the World Wide Web, so it is on Earth.
So the virtual Kingdom of Hawaii may somehow wash brains and establish sovereignty over minds in Hawaii with real effects, but their vision of those effects seems to be influenced by the status quo and appears in images to be somewhat like business as usual under a change of the guard. I shall inquire further into their propaganda and make further attempts to break through the wall of silence raised against “dumb haoles” who do not know what is going on.
What many people are naturally interested in is ground to stand on, that is, real estate for the virtual or ideal state we imagine. That is, land usage.
Original Hawaiians were commonly accustomed to communal land usage, managed by extended families, in which the king, nobles, and commoners had a mutual interest under a sort of feudal arrangement. They once petitioned their king not to relinquish to whites the sovereignty over the land entrusted to real Hawaiians by the gods. If the land were divided up, they believed, with quitclaims given to the chiefs, and foreigners as well as natives were allowed to own plots as private property, sovereignty would be lost to everyone concerned save the whites who had infiltrated the islands and government. Private ownership would allow foreigners to take advantage of many “pukas” or points of entry, and grab everything for themselves. There were indeed hundreds of pukas; the deeds were done; and thus we have today government by mixed races over a system of private property dominated largely by who got there first and capitalized on the opportunities.
The whites with money and Christianity wound up with most of the land. The king and nobles liked the religion and the civilizing effect of money. But the supervisors and commoners had difficulty getting their minds around the concept of private land ownership. Only a few “tenants” filed their claims in time for their portions and had them proven in time under misunderstood rules. Some had no money to pay the commission for the deeds. Others associated to obtain common interest in parcels where they carried on traditional agricultural pursuits such as kalo (taro) farming in remote areas, that is, places not overrun by enterprising whites.
Is all that the work of Ea? Has Ea always meant sovereignty, and, if so, over what by whom? What did Ea mean when the Polynesians had sole possession of the islands?
I shall take up that subject in a future essay, after asking a few more “dumb haole,” purportedly “flippant and insulting” questions. Being ignorant, after all, is precedent to getting really smart, and perhaps worming one’s way into the group of those who know it all. As things stand now, what Hiram Bingham said of the natives may well be said of me, in which case I may be reincarnated to appear as the white god Lono once I am enlightened about my Origin.
“But great as was the darkness of their minds, and pitiable as was the confusion or grossness of their ideas of the divine attributes, still, every one of them was created with conscience and freedom of thought and will, which made them accountable to their Creator and Moral Governor.”