Navigating Humanity Towards a Sustainable Future
In remote island communities, however stratified any given society may be (and there is quite a range), one thing in common is that we all depend on each other to some degree. These are not cultures of individualism, but cultures of responsibility and mutual dependence. The Hawaiian word kuleana denotes both rights and responsibilities, and might be compared to your “turf”: you don’t want someone else infringing on your turf, it’s your area. But if you don’t take care of your area of responsibility, it affects everyone else.
For example, if you don’t take care of your land and it becomes a haven for rats, that affects everyone around you. To assert that it’s your property to do with as you please and that no one can tell you what to do runs contrary to the very nature of life on small islands. Or as Alphonso Luguliol of Ulithi Atoll states,
“If you say, ‘Oh, It’s my freedom, I want to take my rifle and shoot around in the air because it’s a free country,’ so what about this guy who cannot sleep because he really wants to do that? He cannot run away—he’s going to run into the ocean….[T]here are some things that fit to bigger places that will not fit to a small place….We have to know our tradition and customs.”
Through our trainings and workshops, work to instill the values of kuleana to the community and to the environment, of pono (acting appropriately, “doing the right thing”), and mālama—looking after and taking care of the land and resources, so that they look after you.
© Copyright Pacific Worlds Institute 2020, all rights reserved.