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VOICES: Why I believe participating in Kaua‘i Martin Luther King Day 2022 is worth your while

I just completed a week of in-depth study of Mahatma Gandhi with a group of 40 people from around the world on the internet. We read, we watched films, we met in chat rooms, and we wrote our reflections. For me, it was eye-opening to see the beauty of humanity. We are all striving so hard to balance our passion to change the world toward peace, cooperation, sustainability, and safety, with understanding and caring for ourselves.

In this group, I believe, we all were in awe of the contributions to our world from Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa and Jesus, who exemplify the heights of self-sacrifice toward creating the compassionate beloved community that we dream of.

It was somewhat shocking in our last meeting to hear from an elder woman from Mumbai who knew Gandhi, that there is an anti- Gandhi movement in India now. Temples have been erected honoring his assassin and images of his face are put on targets to be shot at. This seems similar to white supremacist groups that have popped up in the U.S.

We approach the celebration of Christmas this week, which for many, is a reminder to live with goodwill for all and principles like “turning the other cheek.”

Meanwhile, if we have time to look at news beyond the latest virus statistics, we see more school shootings, masses of people homeless (many of whom are fleeing war), environmental/weather crises, and economic problems, along with a breakdown of families.

This year Martin Luther King Day celebration offers everyone on Kaua‘i an opportunity to express yourself in writing or making a short phone video which may be part of the lei or patchwork quilt representing our diversity and answering the question of how we can build bridges or tear down walls toward creating the “beloved community” on our island, how we can love our neighbors and be an example for the world. Kaua’i is a special and blessed place on this planet.

The Interfaith Round Table has already received some amazingly wonderful creative pieces from people of the island for our second annual video project which goes up on the internet and is shown on Hoike TV.

And there is still time this week to make one of your own (less than five minutes) and send it to me at or text to 808-346-2587. Written pieces have also been coming in which I love and look for more, based on the prompt: “I create a world that is safe, healthy, sustainable, cooperative, and peaceful by ………….”

And, our neighborhood pods or meeting places are popping up also as people stand up.

We have one in Princeville at the Makai Club hosted by Anna Myers, one in Kilauea hosted by Felicia Cowden, one in Anahola at newly reopened Anahola Café, one in Wailua (Kinipopo) hosted by Keri Cooks at her Womb Bookstore, one in Kapahi at my home, one in Hanapepe hosted by Mark Jeffers (aka Russell the Rooster) in the Sparks Matsunaga Peace Garden, and we are hoping for more in each of our village neighborhoods and housing developments.

These meetings are a chance to sit down together and talk about being the change you want to see, making the first next step toward solving issues that will affect our children’s and grandchildren’s lives as well as the quality of ours. These meetings can be safe, ideally outdoors, with RSVPs to the host contact person (so not drop-in).

The meeting will have facilitators to assist conversations. The meeting can have entertainment, watch our videos or other media (I highly recommend that everyone watch the documentary made this year about Pauli Murray). If you do not know who Pauli Murray was, please find out because this person belongs in every American history book. The pod meetings can share food like the table that MLK spoke about in his Dream speech in 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

If you have ideas for other locations for pods or want to be a host or facilitator or share what you are doing or dream of or just want to attend a meeting, please call or text me at 808-346-2587 or email

Mahalo nui loa for your kokua and for all you are and all you do.


Steve Backinoff is a resident of Kapa‘a
Source: The Garden Island

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