In the Wizard of Oz after Dorothy has flattened the Wicked Witch of the East to a pancake with her falling house, Glinda the Good Witch marvels at Dorothy’s powers which have eliminated the local neighborhood nuisance and asks Dorothy what kind of witch she is. Dorothy of course thinks in terms of black and white with a “witch” easily falling into the black category until Glinda explains that there are good witches as well as bad and that she, Glinda, is a good witch. She then asks Dorothy, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Which witch are you?”
Hawaiʻi also has goodness as well as badness! In Waikīkī our favorite breakfast restaurant, the Wailana, sits at an extremely dangerous intersection where opposing directions of traffic do not get a red light at the same time. As soon as the light turns green for pedestrians to cross a countdown immediately starts flashing to tell them they have X number of seconds left to get across SIX lanes of traffic! Dare to stroll across instead of scurrying and you’ll be flattened like the Witch of the East! I have been saddened to see some Hawaiian drivers react to slower pedestrians crossing the road with anger, rudeness and sometimes complete disregard for pedestrians’ safety! I expect this on the Mainland with its unhealthy “me above all others” attitude but not in Hawaiʻi! But there it is… the contamination has reached the Islands!
One morning I was floored to witness the following. A slightly disabled Auntie in a muʻumuʻu wanted to cross. She took a step or two, saw the countdown going on, panicked because she knew she could never get over there in time, and then stepped back up onto the curb only to try again at the next light change. After attempting twice at the next light-change two Hawaiian teenage boys each took one of her arms and slowly walked with her. When the countdown reached zero one of the boys let go of an arm, faced the traffic and refused to allow any cars to move until the Auntie was safely up on the sidewalk on the other side! Mission accomplished, he waved a shaka sign at the drivers thanking them for their Aloha, sprinted to his buddy on the sidewalk and they both melted away into the crowd! Watching what had transpired my heart was bursting with happiness!
I am convinced that the Mainland’s unbalanced approach to the “rights” of individuals results in an unhealthy self-centeredness which holds the individual hostage. There is a legitimate need for focusing on the self to grow in awareness of the heart’s inner workings, the incoming and outgoing tides of emotions and the ability to either enable or hinder us from knowing ourselves. Self-focus is good or bad depending on the outcome of one’s involvement with the heart. Does my emphasis on “me” result in concern for others as a positive effect in my behavior towards them or does it interfere in my relationships with others? The results are the difference between a healthy introspection and one that is pathological and crippling.
At that intersection in Waikīkī that morning watching those two young boys in action I wished I had caught up to them and got their families addresses so that I could send them a note telling them “You did a wonderful job in raising such a fine son!” Would others send such a note to your parents? Which witch are you?