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Life Arts    H2'ed 7/26/12

"Accidents happen"

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Message robert wolff
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What would the world be like if Gore had won the presidency in 2000. After all, he won by number of votes. What if the Supreme Court--the infamous 5/4--had not been involved. Gore would have created a green economy from the first day. He had a many billion surplus to work with. 9/11 might well have been avoided altogether, there were enough warnings. But if it had happened we would have reacted very differently. I cannot imagine Gore going to war, he would have let the CIA find Osama bin Laden, capture him to be tried here or at the International Court. We would not have had all the wars we are now fighting. We would not have a several trillion dollars debt. By now, more than a decade later, the oil and coal industries would have had to join a sustainable green culture, manufacturing solar panels and windmills. We would have found new sources of energy in the tides, in cold water underneath the hotter surface water of oceans because once you think green a whole new universe opens. One thing leads to another. A Gore Administration would have switched us to another track. Once on a new track the corporations and the banks would have had to go along with a whole new culture.

The financial shenanigans that originated and grew monstrously in the Bush years would not have been possible. iPhones might have been developed, but we would immediately have investigated how safe these little things were and perhaps iPods and iPads and all their mirror images from competitors would have been slower to be made and, of course, made in America. 

We might already have ultra fast trains criss cross the nation and a vastly expanded net of public transportation because that is immensely more efficient and sustainable than everybody having her/his own car that may get 20 mpg; we would have smaller cars that get 70 or 100 mpg. We would have much more local food production and sales. Everybody would have gardens, rooftops growing food around the solar panels.

The entire world would look different, our foreign policies would not have been as aggressive as they are now. The Pentagon would have half the budget they have now. China and India might have skipped the petroleum area altogether and built their economies on sun and wind and who knows what new sustainable energy.

Humankind would have had a chance to survive.

An entirely different planet just because of one person's vote. Is that possible? Or are these political and cultural waves not that dependent on elections. Was the rather sudden swing to a world of hysterical paranoia and enmity inevitable, regardless of elections?

We'll never know.

Years ago I wondered what these islands would have been like if they had remained an independent kingdom. We are very far removed from the mainland and even farther from the country we now belong to (in?). We are as far from the west coast of America as the west coast is from the east coast. We are 1500 miles farther from Washington D.C than Anchorage, Alaska. St. Petersburg (formerly known as Leningrad), Russia is 400 miles closer to Washington, DC than Honolulu is. How in the world did we get to be a "State" of the United States? As most such stories, it's an ugly one. 

The Hawaiian Islands in the early 19th century were an independent Kingdom. King Kalākaua traveled around the world--at that time a voyage of years, by boat and train--collecting Treaties affirming and guaranteeing the independence of the Hawaiian Kingdom from all great European nations AND from the United States. In 1820, the first missionaries came to Hawaiʻi. One of them gave the Hawaiian language a written form, proudly reporting to his superior in Boston that he had created "a simple alphabet for a simple people." Needless to say neither the language nor the Hawaiian people are simple.  The missionaries came dressed in black wool with long sleeves covering every inch of skin except a face and only men showed their hands; the women wore gloves. How they must have suffered; how they must have smelled.

The sons of these missionaries bought land from people who did not know the concept of owning land, nor what money was. Then started plantations growing sugar cane. Of course, as in all colonies, the "natives" were found to be too lazy so Chinese and Japanese workers were imported to work the plantations.  The owners managed to get contracts with buyers in the US. 

In one or two generation the offspring of puritan missionaries became very rich. Although a minute minority they wrote a new Constitution for these islands in which they declared to be a republic. When King Kalākaua died rather suddenly his sister became Queen Liliuʻokalani. 

When an American warship happened to be (?) in the harbor, and willing to loan their armed men to the sons of missionaries they were able to overthrow the monarchy. Queen Liliuʻokalani was first threatened with death then kept prisoner in two rooms of the Royal Palace for two years. The dozen or so white men who formed the new government without much resistance. The Queen did not want her subjects, the Hawaiian people who adored her, to have to face the modest but modern weaponry of the white people. She also expected the president of the United States to declare the overthrow of the independent Kingdom illegal, but thee was no way to contact him. Travel at that time was slow, there was no phone or even telegraph,

Captain Cook (of Britain) "discovered" these islands in 1776, naming them the Sandwich Islands; the Earl of Sandwich was one of the financiers of his voyage of discovery. As almost everywhere the "discovery" of these isolated islands left behind all the diseases the Hawaiian people had no immunity to. The common cold, measles, syphilis, tuberculosis, and more, literally decimated the population. Scientists estimate that in the late 1700s there were probably a million Hawaiians living on these seven islands. Seventy years later the first census counted 50,000 Hawaiians. In 1893, the overthrow of the monarchy, there were probably no more than 30,000 Hawaiians. I believe that was one of the main reasons why the Queen refused to call her people to defend her and the monarchy. Another reason is more subtle. Earlier in that century an Englishman had "taken possession" of these islands for the British Crown. When the ruling monarch in London heard of this he declared that idea null and void. That is why the Hawaiian flag has a small British flag in the left upper corner. Queen Liliuʻokalani believed, it is clear from her writing, that when the American president would hear what a few men (mostly but not all of them American) had done, he also would declare the republic null and void, and so restore the monarchy. When the Queen was finally able to travel, by boat and train, to Washington, DC, she was ignored there at first. When she finally did meet the president, he did not restore the monarchy. 

On the contrary, in 1899 the Republic of Hawaii was annexed by the United State. It is easy to imagine that one of the main reasons for that was that Pearl Harbor made a convenient halfway point for the war then fought in the Philippines. 

An annexation requires a plebiscite. That was indeed held, and almost 30,000 Hawaiians voted NO. The boxes of these votes were sent to Washington where they were mysteriously "lost." It was not until the end of the twentieth century that they were equally mysteriously found. President Clinton officially apologized to the Hawaiian people -- 100 years too late.

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robert wolff lived on the Big Island, called Hawai'i

his website is He passed away in late 2015. He was born in 1925, was Dutch, spoke, Dutch, Malay, English and spent time living and getting to know Malaysian Aborigines. He authored numerous books including What it Is To Be Human, (more...)

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