Seeking A Win-Win Atop Mauna Kea

I like Gov. Ige’s plans for the Thirty Meter Telescope and the stewardship of Mauna Kea. Let the TMT be built, but give cultural and environmental concerns equal footing with science.

This could be one of those elusive win-win-win situations, but only if the followthrough is solid, effective and sincere.

I have thought all along that the TMT issue really is about one thing: respect. And there has been a lack of it all around — for science, for Native Hawaiian culture, for the more moderate voices of those who would seek compromise.

Lack of respect, I believe, has a lot to do with listening — as in, the inability or unwillingness to open your ears and really hear what the other person is saying.

This is why I was struck and heartened by this section in Ige’s statement that outlines our core values as a community:

• The importance of respecting our host culture and the special places of Hawaii

• The critical role that science and technology play in the economic and educational life of our community. Our young people need to reach for the stars literally and figuratively

• Respect for the laws and the process of seeking and receiving approvals to do work here in Hawaii

• The need in all of our work as government and as a people to listen and to learn from each other, and especially from those who feel they have not been heard.

• To act always with aloha In case you failed to notice my bold-faced emphasis, let me repeat what I believe is the key to unlocking the TMT standoff:

“The need in all of our work as government and as a people to listen and to learn from each other, and especially from those who feel they have not been heard.”

In the case of TMT, there were several voices that needed to be heard. Of course, Native Hawaiians, who decided they’d been ignored by “the system” long enough. They spoke up and acted. They refused to be silent. I commend them for becoming activists for a cause they believe in, rather than sitting and stewing at the injustice.

But then other voices started to emerge, tentatively at first, and then a bit more stridently. They were the voices of people who don’t like conflict, who don’t want to step on native cultural values, and yet — they have something at stake, too. They were young people who want to learn, to embrace science as their future. They were parents who want their children to have the opportunity to reach for the stars. They are not activists by nature, but they wanted to be heard, too. And I’m glad. We needed to hear you.

I know this isn’t over. It’s not easy for people to rein in passions that have run so high, or to soften voices that have had to scream to be heard.

But your voices have been heard. The governor has outlined a path for those who take the time to see and understand, and for those willing to hold all parties accountable.

The follow-up will be key. If any of the major parties fail to live up to their commitments then who can blame people for saying, “I told you so?”

But, for now, it’s time to stop yelling and start working together toward a real solution. I believe the governor has given us a good framework, and he did it by listening to — and hearing — all parties involved.

It’s time to give respect — and compromise — a chance.