A response to my piece on “What Is Occupy Wall Street All About?”
This response is from Ignacio, a young man that my friend Jim in Thailand hired and mentored while he lived in Hawaii. Ignacio is an American Indian, an Apache, who was lost at sea when he was 16 with his father and four brothers, surviving 38 days on a rubber raft in the Pacific ocean. Ignacio became very ill as he gave his younger brothers his share of the available food and for himself only drank some Tabasco sauce. His family suffered through many social and economic tragedies – including the murder of one of his brothers. He became a black belt martial arts instructor and a champion surfer. Jim arranged some tuition assistance for him to complete his university education. Jim also sent him to Australia to do some management training. Ignacio has taken control of his life and is doing remarkably well. I’m very proud to have Ignacio join our cause…
Interesting read and video. I do not claim to be any sort of expert in anything related to these issues but see things from both perspectives and identify with both sides. Normally I would agree with the comments from the video but also see what lies beneath the surface of such an issue. As you know Coach, my background and experience is varied and coming from different cultures, experiences and being able to visit other countries and be immersed among them, I feel a bit of anxiety and ambiguity regarding the subject matter.
Firstly, being a product of situational ability to move forward I do feel that opportunity is in abundance in the USA compared to many other countries. Many people with education can’t find jobs yet people do get by and find ways to survive. I suppose that I do feel that younger people feel they have a sense of entitlement to a great job straight out of college, yet many are not willing to get dirty and start at the ground level and prove their abilities.
I recall living on the beach and going to school yet finding the time to be resourceful to ask for help or find time to give back and in turn have been blessed by that action to gain access to social capital which in turn if used properly can give one access to monetary capital. Of course this may be luck, and great timing. Access to capital whether social or monetary does help one move upward in the societal ladder of what the world has come to believe what success is. If one is dedicated and willing to do whatever it takes to be “successful” whatever that means a true committed person will find a way. I recall sitting in the room of a conference with Colin Powell in 1995 and his words hit a nerve with me.
He was asked and interrupted on several occasions during his speech by a young African American about the problems of racism in corporate America and in the military. He finally stopped to address the young man and said the following, ” Young man there is a difference between being a victim and a man, a real man gets up in the morning and looks in the mirror and reminds himself of who he is and where he is going, he doesn’t see the obstacles or color of his skin, all he sees is the potential and where he wants to be. I urge you to start being who you want to be and not what you think others see.” I would love for some of our recent grads to visit third world countries (heck even visitng our native American reservations or neighbors in Mexico) and see what it means to starve and really have no upward mobility or access to work that pays over 15 dollars a day.
As for capitalism, the way of corporations, our financial systems, and America as a whole, that is another subject matter. Are things unfair, of course they are. In my opinion, that is the way it has always been since the beginning of time. Exploitation of people, resources, power and tools (farming, military weapons technology) have allowed society to advance to where it is. Since the days of chiefs, tribal leadership or other forms of leadership, people have exploited either the land or people to fit their needs. These issues have nothing to do with politics, parties, policies or color of skin, it has to do with control of power which includes labor and resources and lack of funding and education.
Even in the fertile crescent ascending to power and a “civilized world” was created by war and dominance over other tribes and exploiting the idea of ownership over land or people and requiring labor by masses to insure power for a few. Control either by military or Religion is commonly practiced. From Sargon, Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar all ascending to power by might and proclamation of holiness, Power and control and societial standing were dependent on access either to Technological, Monetary or Social capital. Even in Hawaii no one asks the descendants of the islands conquered by King Kamehameha if they thought he was great when their families were being slaughtered and enslaved with the use of modern ships and weapons like cannons and guns. Labor even insured holy places like Heiaus built in Kailua Oahu from rocks carved on Kauai and in exact same size each to build temples in the name of gods. Whether to show might or to placate a population and keep them civilized preventing them form violence, free thinking, or sleeping with each other.
We can speak of education and leadership or what all that implies but at the core is the understanding of what it means to starve, be cold and worry about your next meal, the rent and to keep hope alive. I often wonder and now understand a little bit about those in power and those who lead in politics, some of their problems are the lack of understanding of social issues, work, capital and resources. One cannot truly understand the issues of all people by attending school, even if it is Harvard or Yale. Listening and experiencing the issues of the people and having a grasp on decision making and being aware of everything a leader’s choice will impact throughout society and across many disciplines requires a different type of person and an ability to truly be open and aware of certain “truths.” Most of our leaders have an understanding of the world that is not realistic, going to private schools, then to college and on to an internship or law school and then fast tracking into political offices does not make a strong leader or give one the ability to lead. But I suppose that is whole other chapter we can spend time on, back to business…
Of course we start corporations or companies for many reasons; to make a living, to insure something more for our families, to make something great to benefit humanity, to improve technology and even for the love of the game and or passion for the industry. Some of our leaders and captains of industry start companies for the simple reason of making more money and to buy more. Heck even in Hawaii I know of businessmen who throw money at companies hoping that they will fail so that they can have write offs.
Being an entrepreneur has its many challenges and seeing the way things are, often leads one to be pessimistic about the world. I believe I started something to insure something more for my family, and my great grandchildren. I also have a passion and love for technology, making a difference in my community and insuring that my favorite sport and past time gives something back to the culture that is dominated by outside corporations, and professionals, none of which are of Hawaiian Descent.
The very notion of discovery, nation building, wealth building and starting a company is speculative. Any books we forecast and startup technology are based on numbers that are un-proven. The East Indian Company and the West Dutch Indies company were established on the notion of the potential to exploit foreign lands and their resources, including slave labor and monopolies on continents. The Supposed discovery of America (supposed, because it was already populated and discovered millions of years prior to Columbus) was based on adventures and speculation on riches and resource to be exploited. Even one our founding fathers prior to Independence and war was a land surveyor and land speculator on land that was already inhabited and with people with which they had treaties not to invade and war over in a war that had been lost by the English, French and Spaniards. Speculation, gambling, and exploitation are the fundamentals of every “Great Nation”.
Even on a local basis, the housing market was exploited by outsiders and the wealthy who have five or six homes that they don’t even live in but have as investments and or use for vacation rentals or personal use. These same people complain about the crime and homeless in Hawaii yet do not think about the impact of their actions, like raising the cost of land and rentals. There are families that work three jobs and still can’t afford the rent in Hawaii, our children see this and give up hope and turn to booze, crime and joining gangs because why should they struggle and work as hard as their parents to have everything pulled out from under them? Even when we talk about the environment, why would one care about issues and our waters, and lands when all one can think of is where is the next meal coming from?
How can we argue either point and come to some solution or a change? Things are and will always be this way? People will rally and eventually someone will rise to power and lead and exploit an idea, a resource, a religion, a seat of power or a people. Is this our nature? I do find my self often being pessimistic when I see the things that are right and the things that are wrong. People do not play fair, as much as we try and do what we can, there will always be those who try to exploit others. It seems the more one tries to do what is right, others that cheat or have access to more capital whether monetary, social or technological will win. Of course it is frustrating and yet we forge on attempting to do what we think is right. Which in many cases is not right for everyone.
When things are easy, people loose their way and forget what it means to find solutions. A solution is not a complaint or having a voice about something but to actually do something and offer the solution is how we can move forward. It is easy to talk or be on tv, YouTube, the news, what if we used that energy to create, start something new, begin a business, market oneself, do art, write, fish, hunt or do and innovate something to make things happen. It has always been that necessity drives innovation. Maybe things are perfect as they are because we can separate those who are willing to work a little harder than others to make things go forward.
What if we were all equal in society and evenly paid and even though some worked harder at being smarter had more strengths and abilities we were not rewarded for that motivation? Would we stop trying and become complacent?
If I could offer my opinion and thoughts on all of it, I would put it in the way I learned from my Apache Grandfather. In our native way of thinking and belief in the idea of Seven Generations. I aspire to live in a way that is of value to myself and my people. Whether we look at environmental issues, what we say, what we eat, what we exploit, how we lead, how we invest, where we invest, how we play and how we interact with our families and communities, are we thinking about ourselves and an immediate return or are we thinking seven generations from now? All of our actions on a daily basis have a direct impact on Seven Generations from now. We can change our DNA, what we do and say to our employees, families, the land and how we lead will affect seven generations from now.
My great grandchildren will know how I lived and what I left for them. We are living on land and the earth which we are borrowing from the future. Do as we need and desire with as little impact that is negative on others and the land. Do that which is right for the most amount of people and resources. We can never satisfy everyone, we should not act out of need for popularity or to be seen as a leader or for glory but to do what is right. Of course we all need money and want to leave something for our children and theirs but how we do it will be remembered long after we have left this earth.
As with all things including society, our ways of thinking and advancement;”It will always be true that critical thinking, frustration, vision and revision are the perpetual companions of meaningful change.”
Thanks for the note and inclusion in the emails. I know it is a bit winded but I guess I have had many of these things on my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I love America, and the way things are may not be permanent. Is there room for change? Of course there is, the only thing we can be assured of is our actions, hopefully actions that are well thought out. Imagine if we all took a few seconds before responding to words or actions and thought about how we will affect all those around us and their families for generations to come. We cannot control others and their actions, we can only lead by example.
Mahalo Nui Loa,
Surfer Buddies LLC