In October of 2010 Mom, Dan and I went on a tour of the interior of the Iolani Palace. I found the interior to be pleasingly sumptuous and yet not cloying. There is so much beautiful wood around every turn, in every next room! To stand in the room of Queen Liliʻuokalani’s imprisonment was profoundly moving for me! As I stood there, looking around, I imagined her there, a prisoner in her own Palace feeling that the Great Canoe of Hawaiʻi had developed some serious holes that would in the end sink all in it!
When the Hawaiian Monarchy was overthrown by American businessmen, many of the articles in the Palace were auctioned off, scattered not only around Honolulu but… as has been discovered over the past years… around the world itself! Slowly, many of these estranged items, like refugees, have been returning home to the Palace.
Western (ie- American) culture, along with its values, is so pervasive and influential that many assume that all of it is good and should be embraced. But the West, especially the business and banking aspects of it, espouse a “freedom” which translates into doing whatever the institution wants to do, and with little sense of responsibility to the rest of the culture. And doing what we want to do is not always the same thing as doing what we should do or what is moral!
Queen Liliʻuokalani must have wondered about Hawaiʻi’s future. I also wonder if younger Hawaiians are being slowly poisoned by the West’s narcissistic take on personal freedom! With the Hawaiian sense of ʻohana, and being tied to others and the land through relationships, then to embrace the western mis-take on freedom might cause young Hawaiians to become estranged from their own hearts! Freedom should mean the pursuit of authenticity which calls for an interior harmony. It is that interior harmony that I worry is in jeopardy when young Hawaiians look to emulate the west instead of their ʻohana and their ʻāina!
When we become estranged from our own hearts we become refugees driven from our heart’s home. How strange that when Queen Liliʻuokalani was driven from her throne they imprisoned her in her own home! I am certain the irony of it was not lost upon her.