Growing up in Hawaii during the 70’s and 80’s, I heard constantly how Hawaii is the “Melting Pot of the Pacific.” A place where diverse people and cultures can come together and live in a pristine paradise.
But what I didn’t realize was that being 3000 miles away from anything you grow up very secluded and isolated.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is easy to be ignorant of the world around you.
Don’t get me wrong. Having Waikiki Beach be a 10 minute walk away. Seeing Diamond Head Crater everyday on the way to school. And catching a rainbow peak through the clouds above Manoa Valley each morning was wonderful.
Hell, I lived in a place that other people only dreamed about coming to. One question I always seemed to get when people find out where I grew up is, “why would you leave Hawaii?!?”
I tell them, “it wasn’t enough…”
There are too many things to do, too many people to meet, too many places to see.
And that is what makes me angry.
Believe it or not, growing up in the melting pot of the Pacific, I grew up to be very prejudice. When I grew up, there was this undercurrent dislike for anyone Caucasian. We have a word for white people in Hawaii, we call them “haoles.” And depending on your tone, it could just be a label or on the other side of the spectrum; an insult, a slur, a condemnation.
I didn’t realize that I was prejudice, until one day, a few months after moving to Los Angeles. I was driving back home with a buddy from his brother’s home in Riverside, CA. I don’t know what I had said specifically, but the next thing I know, my buddy is pounding me on my chest, yelling, “DO YOU HEAR THE SHIT COMING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!?!”
I go, “WHAT?”
I guess for the last few minutes I had been commenting about how Riverside was full of hicks, cowboys and (what I assumed) white-trash. I remember seeing a hitching post for horses in front of a bar and think to myself, “I must be in a hick town…”
It was then that I realized that I was prejudiced against whites.
My wife often jokes with me that before I left Hawaii, I didn’t realize that there were different Caucasian cultures – I thought of them all as haoles. I didn’t know that there were Italians (from Italy) as compared to Italian-Americans, let alone Russians, Scots, Brits, Anglo-Americans, Aussies, Kiwis, etc.
To me as a young ignorant kid, they were all haoles. And I was raised to blame them for all of Hawaii’s problems; taking the land and destroying the natural beauty, bringing in diseases like the cholera, measles, even the damn bubonic plague! We blamed the invaders for subjugated a proud Polynesian people and relegating them to be second-class citizens.
We blamed the foreigners for everything.
And that is what I hate.
After learning how I grew up prejudice, I began to actively seek out and learn about other cultures and people. I did my best to see people as individuals and not as a demographic. I chose to be more open-minded and not as quick to judge.
What I hate about the world is that too many of us live isolated, ignorant and prejudice lives.
Yes, it is easier to deal with people that you already know. Have discussions with people who will agree with you. Hang out with people who are just like you and will respond in ways that you are comfortable with.
But that is not the way that you grow. It is not the way that we stop the ignorance, prejudice and hatred that exists in the world today. It is not the way for us to stop living in fear of our neighbors. Neighbors who are right across the street or halfway around the world.
It is this ignorance that is slowly (and sometimes, not so slowly) killing everybody on this planet. If not physically, spiritually.
We talk about love, we sing about love, our places of worship profess about love. We even tell each other that we love them. But what emotion do you feel for that stranger (that potential best friend) that you meet on the street?
I struggle with this each and every day. I do my best to view each person as a friend that I have just met instead of a potential threat or someone who will take up my time.
I hate not feeling connected to each and every one of us on this planet. I hate how this lack of connection is strangling all of us.
(This post is part of the Live Your Legend Start a Blog Challenge, join the Revolution NOW!)