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The world is watching Hawaii, for better or worse

Kauai showed the rest of the state last week that they certainly stand with the protectors who remain atop Mauna Kea, and have now successfully halted construction, at least temporarily. Another peaceful protest took place Sunday morning in Kapaa with the “Mauna March,” which saw an organized march from Waikaea Canal (Lihi Park boat ramp) to Kapaa Beach Park. It was the fifth organized protest in a week that saw Mauna Kea dominate the headlines and weigh heavy on many minds, and will continue to do so until either the Thirty Meter Telescope is built, or until the developers cave into mounting pressure and decide to build the telescope elsewhere.

The fight to protect the sacred mountain has spread not just across Hawaii, but throughout the entire nation, and is being seen across the world. The beautiful thing to see out of all of this on the local level is that protests have remained peaceful and have shown how the people’s voice has power, no matter how marginalized they may feel.

It was good to see our elected officials and new police chief take a proactive approach to the prospect of more and more protests. It showed that they truly care, and it is important to keep in mind that everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it is contrary or opposite to what someone else believes.

This is a key component to democracy, as it is important to have conflicting sides to every coin, and it is important to engage in civil discourse and hear the opposition out. There are many sides to the coin when it comes to Mauna Kea and, like everything else, it depends on what you believe in.

If you believe that there is a way to balance science and achieve scientific means without destroying a sacred land for that purpose, you will probably lean to the side of the protectors who are at the summit right now.

If you believe that science is a sacred pursuit and that location is the optimal place in the world to accomplish those scientific means, then you are probably of the belief that nothing is being desecrated with the addition of one of the world’s most advanced scientific tools.

There are also the type in the middle who can see both sides as having valid points that truly matter and need to be heard. The protest on Kauai Sunday and the planned one today are all indications that this issue will not simply fade away, and that there will need to be some kind of resolution in the matter that will only be achieved with both sides sitting down and having meaningful dialogue about what is important, and if there can be a compromise in the situation.

As it stands right now, there is still an emergency proclamation and the highway has been shut down. Construction on the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope has been temporarily halted, and 25 employees working on the 13 telescopes for Maunakea Observatories have been pulled off the mountain for safety concerns.

The telescopes are now being remotely monitored and were not operating throughout the weekend, and will likely not operate soon. The Thirty Meter Telescope construction has the green light, but the protectors on the mountain and in the state and nation are proving to show that anything can change if enough people get behind an idea or movement.

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Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or rcollins@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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