Domestic Violence and other Sordid Issues
January 11, 2010
From time to time, the Affordable Paradise Blog gets questions about what many perceive to be a kind of third-world-country attitude about a few things. Among these things are incidents of domestic violence, spousal abuse, alcohol-related incidents, burglaries, education, and even murder.

Wow, that's about a mouthful, and not a very tasty one at that.

OK, all I have here is my own, my wife's and our friends' feelings about these things, and there are no doubt lots of other viewpoints. So as usual, if you wish further discussion about any of what I'm going to lay out here, please post on the
Affordable Paradise Blog, and also on PunaWeb and KonaWeb. Both of the latter are excellent forums for discussion, and you'll get no end of support from the Kona side about how terrible it is over on the Hilo side!

Let's start with domestic violence. It happens here. It happens everywhere, and the statistics here are basically no different than anywhere else in the country as far as where it happens the most. There is a direct relationship between the cost of housing and domestic violence. Yes, that seems a bit simplistic, but it's true. Where there is a lot of low-cost housing and where there are neighborhoods that are mostly rentals, the incidents of all nefarious goings-on increase.

It is a fact of life everywhere, but again the part that's hard for us who were not raised here to deal with, is that again, it is largely overlooked. Just last Thanksgiving, some guy shot his girlfriend after a long history of domestic abuse. He killed her, and then shot himself. Usually, the culprit doesn't kill himself; we just get to support him in prison for a few years, then he gets let out and the same thing happens all over again.
Drunk driving? Over and over. We read in the paper about some guy who caused a spectacular wreck because he was so drunk he was nearly comatose, and in the article we get to know that this is his sixth DUI and that he was driving, again, with no license or insurance. And likely in a car he stole from a relative. Say what?! Sixth DUI?

We have the highest DUI rate in the country. Why? Well, to those of us who have no idea how these things work, we feel it has something to do with the fact that nobody seems to care. That this is OK here. This notion is well supported when we read of the numbers of DUI arrests at that go on forever. What's wrong wtih this picture?

This is the part that catches the attention of newcomers here: Little attention is given to these goings-on. Burglaries happen, the police are called, they take down the report, all the while giving the impression to the victim that this is really boring and that she should just get over it. There seems to be no followup, and with all the burglaries there are, one rarely sees or hears anything about the apprehension of the culprits. When, in rare cases, the culprits are caught, we'll read about how this is the umpteenth time they've been busted for all sorts of crimes, and that their day in court will happen at some time in the future.
Or not.

Indeed, I watched a car burglary in progress in Kapoho. The guys broke into a car that apparently belonged to a fisherman. The loaded up all his gear and took off. I called the police, gave them the make and model of the car, the license plate number, and a general description of the perps. I followed the car and made sure it was headed up a road that came out in only one place, no turnoffs, and that place was about one minute from the local police station. Done deal, right?

Hardly. A few days later I called the police station and asked what had become of this incident. After a few excuses, one guy there finally told me they had "dropped the case because the license numbers I gave them didn't match the car." Funny thing is, this is the same excuse I have heard numerous times on these kinds of cases.

There are all sorts of theories about why these things come down the way they do, and none is pretty. What we have chosen to do about it is to accept it as part of the culture here. We do what we can to keep ourselves at a distance from the action, and we let it go. We have never personally been affected by any of it beyond the frustration and sadness of hearing about it from others.

There's a chapter in Affordable Paradise that addresses the notion of coming here, establishing yourself in a local neighborhood, and then after a time when you learn about all the stuff going on there that is out of your comfort zone, you try to "do something about it." I don't want to rewrite that chapter here, so if you're interested in this very important element of "island living," I strongly suggest you read the book.

So why would anyone want to live here? That's hard to answer, because you have to have Hawaii in your heart to be able to understand. As I try to make so very clear in the book, if these things make your skin crawl, then you should not be living here. If you can accept that these things are now and always have been a part of what is euphemistically called "Island life," then you might do OK.
Regarding the barking dogs issue, I am, at this moment, so irritated by the three-hour-long marathon dog-yapping session coming from across the street that I have to get out of my office now, so I'll take that one up in the next Update, which will be soon. Oh yes, and we'll also touch on education and how it appears to be dealt with Island Style.
The good parts, the sacred wonder, the awesome healing and the overwhelming mana of the Islands far outweighs the negatives to those of us who choose to call this place home. It's just a part of living here, and we hope some day it will get what in our minds is better.

Island people have a way of dealing with their own issues that those of us who were not raised here may never understand. It has always worked for them, and were it not for our interference, it could conceivably be working a lot better than it is now. It has always been difficult for our cultures to mesh perfectly. They never will. Getting along and agreeing to disagree is possibly a better solution than trying to "to get them to see it our way." Especially if "our way" is the mainland way.

It is only because of the resilience of the Island people, and the Hawaiians in particular, that the aloha still exists. I feel that if it were entirely up to the haole imposters (that would be us), there would be no more aloha at all. It would be all business, all for profit, just as it is in most parts of the mainland.

That mystical, magical feeling that draws so many people to want to live here is still pervasive, even if in the cracks of the society here there are some flaws.

Wow. Some strong words, for sure. No doubt I'll get nailed for this from several fronts, but it is my feeling. It's just all my own opinions and my own feelings, and I've certainly been wrong before. I heartily invite discussion, which can be posted to
Affordable Paradise Blog.

With much aloha,
You are also welcome to check in to the Affordable Paradise Blog and talk story about your concerns. You can read some of the many postings there and learn from the conversations of others, too. You can also go on konaweb.com and punaweb.org and either participate in the discussions or just eavesdrop for a while!
We wish you all the best, and never forget to
Please Live Aloha!
Mahalo for "listening."
Skip Thomsen & Ohana
Updated 1/11/2010