- From time to
time, the Affordable
Paradise Blog gets questions about what many perceive to be a
kind of third-world-country attitude about a few things. Among
these things are incidents of domestic violence, spousal abuse,
alcohol-related incidents, burglaries, education, and even murder.
Wow, that's about a mouthful, and not a very tasty one at that.
OK, all I have here is my own, my wife's and our friends' feelings
about these things, and there are no doubt lots of other viewpoints.
So as usual, if you wish further discussion about any of what
I'm going to lay out here, please post on the Affordable
Paradise Blog, and also on PunaWeb and KonaWeb. Both of the
latter are excellent forums for discussion, and you'll get no
end of support from the Kona side about how terrible it is over
on the Hilo side!
Let's start with domestic violence. It happens here. It happens
everywhere, and the statistics here are basically no different
than anywhere else in the country as far as where it happens
the most. There is a direct relationship between the cost of
housing and domestic violence. Yes, that seems a bit simplistic,
but it's true. Where there is a lot of low-cost housing and where
there are neighborhoods that are mostly rentals, the incidents
of all nefarious goings-on increase.
It is a fact of life everywhere, but again the part that's hard
for us who were not raised here to deal with, is that again,
it is largely overlooked. Just last Thanksgiving, some guy shot
his girlfriend after a long history of domestic abuse. He killed
her, and then shot himself. Usually, the culprit doesn't kill
himself; we just get to support him in prison for a few years,
then he gets let out and the same thing happens all over again.
- Drunk driving?
Over and over. We read in the paper about some guy who caused
a spectacular wreck because he was so drunk he was nearly comatose,
and in the article we get to know that this is his sixth DUI
and that he was driving, again, with no license or insurance.
And likely in a car he stole from a relative. Say what?! Sixth
We have the highest DUI rate in the country. Why? Well, to those
of us who have no idea how these things work, we feel it has
something to do with the fact that nobody seems to care. That
this is OK here. This notion is well supported when we read of
the numbers of DUI arrests at that go on forever. What's wrong
wtih this picture?
This is the part that catches the attention of newcomers here:
Little attention is given to these goings-on. Burglaries happen,
the police are called, they take down the report, all the while
giving the impression to the victim that this is really boring
and that she should just get over it. There seems to be no followup,
and with all the burglaries there are, one rarely sees or hears
anything about the apprehension of the culprits. When, in rare
cases, the culprits are caught, we'll read about how this is
the umpteenth time they've been busted for all sorts of crimes,
and that their day in court will happen at some time in the future.
- Or not.
Indeed, I watched a car burglary in progress in Kapoho. The guys
broke into a car that apparently belonged to a fisherman. The
loaded up all his gear and took off. I called the police, gave
them the make and model of the car, the license plate number,
and a general description of the perps. I followed the car and
made sure it was headed up a road that came out in only one place,
no turnoffs, and that place was about one minute from the local
police station. Done deal, right?
Hardly. A few days later I called the police station and asked
what had become of this incident. After a few excuses, one guy
there finally told me they had "dropped the case because
the license numbers I gave them didn't match the car." Funny
thing is, this is the same excuse I have heard numerous times
on these kinds of cases.
There are all sorts of theories about why these things come down
the way they do, and none is pretty. What we have chosen to do
about it is to accept it as part of the culture here. We do what
we can to keep ourselves at a distance from the action, and we
let it go. We have never personally been affected by any of it
beyond the frustration and sadness of hearing about it from others.
There's a chapter in Affordable Paradise that addresses
the notion of coming here, establishing yourself in a local neighborhood,
and then after a time when you learn about all the stuff going
on there that is out of your comfort zone, you try to "do
something about it." I don't want to rewrite that chapter
here, so if you're interested in this very important element
of "island living," I strongly suggest you read the
So why would anyone want to live here? That's hard to answer,
because you have to have Hawaii in your heart to be able to understand.
As I try to make so very clear in the book, if these things make
your skin crawl, then you should not be living here. If you can
accept that these things are now and always have been a part
of what is euphemistically called "Island life," then
you might do OK.
- Regarding the
barking dogs issue, I am, at this moment, so irritated by the
three-hour-long marathon dog-yapping session coming from across
the street that I have to get out of my office now, so I'll take
that one up in the next Update, which will be soon. Oh yes, and
we'll also touch on education and how it appears to be dealt
with Island Style.
- The good parts,
the sacred wonder, the awesome healing and the overwhelming mana
of the Islands far outweighs the negatives to those of us who
choose to call this place home. It's just a part of living here,
and we hope some day it will get what in our minds is better.
Island people have a way of dealing with their own issues that
those of us who were not raised here may never understand. It
has always worked for them, and were it not for our interference,
it could conceivably be working a lot better than it is now.
It has always been difficult for our cultures to mesh perfectly.
They never will. Getting along and agreeing to disagree is possibly
a better solution than trying to "to get them to see it
our way." Especially if "our way" is the mainland
It is only because of the resilience of the Island people, and
the Hawaiians in particular, that the aloha still exists.
I feel that if it were entirely up to the haole imposters (that
would be us), there would be no more aloha at all. It
would be all business, all for profit, just as it is in most
parts of the mainland.
That mystical, magical feeling that draws so many people to want
to live here is still pervasive, even if in the cracks of the
society here there are some flaws.
Wow. Some strong words, for sure. No doubt I'll get nailed for
this from several fronts, but it is my feeling. It's just all
my own opinions and my own feelings, and I've certainly been
wrong before. I heartily invite discussion, which can be posted
With much aloha,
- You are also
welcome to check in to the Affordable Paradise
Blog and talk story about your concerns. You can read some of
the many postings there and learn from the conversations of others,
too. You can also go on konaweb.com and punaweb.org and either
participate in the discussions or just eavesdrop for a while!
- We wish you
all the best, and never forget to
- Mahalo for
- Skip Thomsen