It appears that the gap is growing between those, like me, who yearn to know more about the Universe and those Hawaiians or part-Hawaiians who stick with the old-age myths of a snow goddess, Sky Father and Earth Mother at Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island.
The mythologist Joseph Campbell wrote that “there are two totally different orders of mythology. There is the mythology that relates you to your nature and to the natural world, of which you’re a part. And there is the mythology that is strictly sociological, linking you to a particular society.”
The telescope peering out to answer my question of what was there before the Big Bang is both my natural world and sociological quest.
The protectors of Mauna Kea have chosen the past as their way finder in this age of amazing technology and downgrading of myths.
I don’t believe in a snow goddess, a Sky Father or an Earth Mother. I also don’t believe it was appropriate to blight a beautiful mountain top with an array of telescopes that glint in the sunlight and disturb any effort to feel overcome as you stand at the top.
But we did, and one more will neither help nor harm. This one, the TMT, will actually be tucked in a fold on Mauna Kea, not at its tippy-top.
On the downside for me is not any desecration but whether all that money for the TMT is worth it. By the time it is built and installed, our orbiting telescopes and all-seeing space vehicles are likely to tell us much more than one large glass mirror on Mauna Kea.
And aside from that issue is the one of how the protest and the handling of it all by Gov. David Ige has damaged our ability to move ahead with comity and compromise. We let protestors block public roads. That’s a very bad precedent. We let them tell the majority when we can or cannot build something of human benefit. Ige let state authority and democracy slide into second place. How do we ever recover it now? One small way is to vote for OHA trustees favoring getting on with building the TMT. Those would seem to be be Akina, Hao, Smith and Alapa.
And letting myth run our personal decision-making process is somewhat like continuing to believe thunder and lightning bolts are Thor’s hammer throwing from Olympus. Or Neptune ruling the sea.
Poli’ahu does not live on Mauna Kea. The mauna was not a child of Sky Father and Earth Mother. It was a magma upwelling about 0.8 million years ago in the ocean. Those are the physical facts that cannot be disputed.
All those telescopes atop the mauna are something of a blight. That’s also a fact that cannot be disputed.
We should be moving on from there and not be distracted by whether or not Poli’ahu descended the mountain to sit on the rocky cliffs along the Hamakua Coast, where she seduced Aiwohikupua, a young chief from Kauai.