Post-GMO vote: Predictions, realities and our way of life

Things got very heated over the controversial genetically modified organisms ballot initiative this election and sadly many of the predictions made have been realized.

The first is that the issue would not be settled by the election. It was widely recognized that lawsuits would be filed and this has occurred on both sides. As expected, the county has been named and is dealing with the legal ramifications, which cost all residents more. The negative sentiments once centered on the GMO issue are not only continuing but escalating. Further, efforts are now aimed at hurting Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., our last remaining sugar plantation in Hawaii and large Maui employer. These sad forecasts have become disheartening realities that seek to change our way of life.

And, while proponents of the negative movement afoot talk about peaceful demonstrations, the language and symbolism used in their propaganda do not come across as peaceful, with images of raised fists, attacks on industries and leaders, and messaging that encourages people to roar against government.

To have such negativity circulating in our own community is bad enough, however these messages have been spread far and wide, across the globe, with social media posts that showcase a character and intention that is in conflict with the aloha spirit that we are widely recognized for. Such efforts have tarnished and are continuing to tarnish the beauty of Maui, one of the key things the movement says it seeks to protect.

With this and other divisive issues, the true meaning of “aloha” has suffered and we want to lift it up. We are encouraging people to “Stand for Aloha” and share that positive message with the world.

It is important that we honor and love each other regardless of our differences, pay tribute to our ancestors who sacrificed for the benefit of future generations, and advance the triple bottom-line view of sustainability (economy, environment and social well-being) for winning solutions.

Hawaii is known as the “The Aloha State” and “The Aloha Spirit” is written into state law.

It means:

A – “Akahai,” meaning kindness, to be expressed with tenderness.

L – “Lokahi,” meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony.

O – “Oluolu,” meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness.

H – “Haahaa,” meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty.

A – “Ahonui,” meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people. It was the working philosophy of Native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii. “Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. “Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. “Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. “Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

In an island state, we are reliant on each other and must work together. We encourage people to embrace and perpetuate the “aloha spirit” through random acts of kindness to each other, the environment and local businesses.

We will be partnering with Chamber of Commerce members and the community to make a positive difference through actions and hope others will as well.

Today, from 7:30 to 10 a.m., we will be picking up trash along a 2-mile stretch of Kuihelani Highway from its intersection with Puunene Avenue to Waiko Road. Other activities are upcoming. Email if you are interested in joining in.

Together, let’s “Stand for Aloha” and protect this amazing gift, our island and our way of life. Mahalo.

* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.