President Elect Barack Obama, 'Iokepa, and I shared a couple vacation nights together on the Island of O'ahu, on our way back to Washington state for the start of the second Return Voyage outreach; on his way back to an Inauguration. To be exact, we shared the 'aina (land) and nalu (ocean waves) on the same small Island in the middle of the Pacific. Our paths did not cross.
The President Elect and his family were protectively ensconced in North Shore luxury. 'Iokepa and I were sleeping on an air mattress on the living room floor of our daughter and son in law's one-bedroom, overpriced, Honolulu apartment--snuggled next to our three year old and nine month old grandsons.
In fact, we understand that the Obamas were the only folks on O'ahu not to lose their electricity during a twelve-hour, over-night, Island-wide black out. There are a few perks of his almost-office.
This man, Barack Obama, the next president of the United States of America, is not Native Hawaiian, but he was born and bred within this culture. We try to measure exactly what that means; how that translates to behavior, attitudes, and intentions. Like so many others, kanaka maoli--aboriginal Hawaiians--want to claim and assert their cultural influence on this man who speaks truth, embraces community, radiates compassion.
These are qualities at the heart of this indigenous culture. Return Voyage speaks of our human and the natural community. Return Voyage speaks of the connections within all Creation. Return Voyage speaks of how little we have used of that which we are all born knowing. Return Voyage says that The Time is Now to claim it, to use it, and, most significantly, to share it.
Our President Elect--son of these tropical islands, returning home with his family on the brink of unprecedented changes in his life. and in ours--speaks the language of the people who nurtured him. His debt is deep, and our pride is enormous.