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Kalikiano Kalei

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· U S Chemical and Biological Defense Respirators


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· Saddam's Toilet, Part 3

· Saddam's Toilet, Part 2

· Zipping Flies with Papa Hemingway

· Searching For Haumea...

· Farewell to Sherlockville

· Down in the Valley--Chapter 1

· First Class, or Guaranteed Delivery?

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· The First (Near) Ascent of Heartbreak Hill


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· German Wartime Ejection Seat Developments

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· Creating an authentic 2WK Luftwaffe Aircrewman Impression

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· Ritter der Lfte: Chivalry in 2WK aerial combat

· War From the German Perspective: A Matter of Differential History

· Recreating Luftwaffe WW2 History

· Film Review: Final Approach (1991)

· Cafe Racing of the 60s: Rockers, Ton-up Boys and the 59 Club


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· If women had udders...!

· Five Up, One Down...

· More dirty climbing limericks

· First ascent of Broad Peak!

· Sawtooth Haiku

· Somewhere in my sleep

· The soundless temple bell

· Hearts and minds

· Rabbit gazing at full moon

· Koto-kaze

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Rage: an unchecked outpouring of extreme anger, usually released indirectly and inappropriately by some trigger that has merely served as a catalytic spark. No one is exempt from moments of stark, black, incoherent rage, although it is more typically linked to an excess of testosterone that is undiluted by reasoned constraint.



"Pi ka ihu, ha’u i ka makani…"


“The nose snorts, as he puffs at the wind.“  So goes an ancient allegorical Hawaiian reference to incoherent rage in another person; it perfectly suits what is becoming an increasing problem both in Hawaii and on the mainland: raging anger released within the span of a single heartbeat over an otherwise inconsequential or even trivial action.

I am normally a very calm, fair-minded and equanimous person. I was raised in my youth to be respectful of kupuna (elders) and to unfailingly regard others with courtesy and politeness. I was taught to look out for those who were less fortunate and to protect those who were being victimized unfairly by bullies. Unlike the little barbarians who were my youthful peers, I was made aware that I must assume responsibility for not just my own actions, but for any adverse effects they might have on others as well. In other words, I was brought up in a manner that we are told is vitally important for maintaining successful social cohesion in any supposedly civilized community of individuals.

Most of my little friends were lucky if they received so much as a corrective whack across the okole (ass) when they stepped out of line (which was every day and all the time) and such basics as manners, courtesy, and respectful regard for others were about as well understood by them as the runic texts, written in a lost language, on an ancient obelisk. They were pretty much an unruly pack of immature animals throughout most of their own youthful days. Of course that was an advantage in latter life, as it later turned out, since once the thin veneer of civilisation has been stripped off human nature by events, the reversion to our animal ancestry is but a short step away. Ironically, I was the one who ended up disadvantaged in my adult life, encumbered by an almost oppressive sense of the need to do right and act right in an unruly society full of ill-mannered individuals. Such people are handicapped in a world as full of outrageous behavior and violence as is ours.

Ironically, this very essence of maintaining harmony is at the heart of Christian religious teachings that constantly remind the faithful of the need to be meek, mild-mannered, and humble in all things. The fact that I was brought up in the Christian church is coincidental, since I managed to see through the fantastic delusions of religious dogma quite early in life and embraced a broader concept of possibilities for the universe and our place in it. But that’s a tangential digression, here. The point I am making is that one does not need to be saddled with a religious behavioral ethic to be a good, worthy, and contributing member of society. Susceptible to all the usual human foibles and failings, yes, but at least aware of the greater need to hew to higher standards of conduct and maintain full regard for life and all things we share the planet with. Thus, while no more perfect than the next fellow, at least I rigorously recognise the need to enhance the process of peaceful coexistence in my affairs and interactions with others.

Disconcertingly, I find that as I grow older, that formerly strong sense of romantic idealism I began life with has increasingly given way to a sense of pernicious irony, at times strongly suffused with sardonic cynicism and overtones of vaguely misanthropic condescension. It is probably my worst trait and it simply grows stronger whenever I witness ever more of life’s eternal tragedies and unceasing grief. As a writer, there are times when these qualities lurk closer to the surface of my nature than they normally would be. Yesterday seems to have been one of them.

A few days ago, the Honolulu Advertiser featured an article on the recent 15 April ‘Tea Party’ event, a nationally coordinated and orchestrated expression of populist disapprobation over the new Obama Administration’s massive program of Federal relief for corporate enterprise and broader economic stimulation. In the inimitable HA on-line manner, as one might expect for such a highly controversial action, everyone wanted to weigh in on this contentious issue, ranging from those on the left of the centerline who were dismissive of the event to those decidedly on the right, who waxed passionately in support of the demonstrations. The comments reflected everything from keen intelligence to the expected dumb shitery of mental midgets.

Entering the arena myself, I made a statement to the effect that “The average person has about as much understanding of the complexities of this matter as a mongoloid idiot.” Or sentiments to that effect, exercising my fondness for using ‘twenty-dollar’ words in the doing.

My remark was immediately seized upon by several others, who among other things, ironically congratulated me on my ‘knowledge of the language’ (a slam on ‘big’ words, apparently) on the one hand and accused me of coming off in a manner typical of a thin-veined leftist intellectual on the other. Another person wanted to know if I was upset about something, or did I just derive some sort of particular enjoyment from making insulting remarks about others. That gave me some pause for thought, but I did in fact think about the implications for a few moments, recalling the earlier events of the day.

You see, I am a financial analyst for the state treasurer’s office. I normally commute to my office by bicycle each day, but since I was faced by the need to drop off some lab specimens for an annual physical exam (at a lab a few miles distant), I brought the car to work instead of my bicycle. Arriving at zero-dark-thirty hours in the early AM, I had no problem finding a parking space and spent the morning as I usually do, delving deep into the bowels of the state’s fiscal matters and working with state securities invested with the Fed until I had to leave for the lab.

By this time (it was about 1030 hours), the state Capitol was full to overflowing with a vast and motley crowd of demonstrators, all there to demonstrate in support of the April 15th ‘Tea Party’ event. It was a seething, chaotic mass of color, with attendees dressed in various costumes of red, white, and blue, and most waving American flags, holding up home-made signs, and shouting patriotic slogans. As a person who has a long-abiding distaste for crowds and large masses of people, I was annoyed and irritated by the spectacle, since my office directly across the street from the Capitol and the noise level put out by the crowd was considerable. The amplified public address systems were cranked up considerably beyond a reasonable level and it was becoming extremely difficult to concentrate on important matters at hand, thanks to all the resulting cacophony and dissonance.

There crowd was varied in composition, but it seemed to have a predominant mix of older (presumably retired) people, families, and well turned out adults. It wasn’t hard to imagine that almost all were Republican and that there were very few (if any) Democrats among them, judging from the anti-Obama comments to be seen on the makeshift protest placards and banners. I am further GREATLY opposed to people wrapping themselves in the American flag every time they get an itch in their okole, since most haven’t a genuine clue what authentic patriotism is all about, nor do they have the least understanding of democracy’s underlying political philosophy. My overall impression, even admitting my existing dislike of ANY large gathering of people, was that this event was seen by most of the people there as more as an amusing diversion (street theatre) and opportunity to decompensate in public than an attempt to constructively communicate genuine displeasure with Federal economic policy.

At any rate, life in the state Capitol is just one big demonstration after another, most of the time, since seemingly every other day some group is demonstrating on the Capitol steps. If it isn’t ‘Teachers for continued educational subsidies for our children’, then it’s protestors angry over the cut-backs in social programs for the disabled. You name it, they’re probably out there, shouting, yelling, arguing, demonstrating, and creating a great big noisy scene. I perhaps wouldn’t mind quite so much if I weren’t hampered by the vestigial remnants of childhood ADHD. As someone with a greater than usual need for peace and harmony in my work environment, I am easily distracted by extraneous dins such as those characteristic of these regular public demonstrations. Crowds of self-proclaimed ‘patriots’ are especially off-putting to me, furthermore, since I have a profound distaste for the exclusive co-option of national pride by any partisan group.

By the time I was ready to leave to drop off my lab specimens, the place was overflowing with these people. Every single parking space was filled in an area that even under the best conditions has severe parking problems. There were bikers’ Harleys wedged between the cars illegally and so much chaotic motion resulting from the ebb and flow of demonstrators that the police who were monitoring the event were helpless to even make an attempt at enforcement. Relieved that I was leaving the scene, I pulled away, barely able to make it through the crowds, but finally clear and on my way. It only took me about a quarter of an hour to take care of the lab drop.

The problems began when I returned to the Capitol and tried to find a place to park again. Of course there were no spaces anywhere to be had and even the few multi-story parking facilities were entirely full. After about 45 minutes wasting gas while circling the block in hopes of finding a space, I finally gave up and decided to return home, thinking that since there were several city-subsidised motorcycle parking areas nearby, I could drop off the car and come back to the office on my 1981 Yamaha Seca 750.

Arriving home I was unexpectedly greeted by another unhappy scene. The wahine had forgotten to put the sliding dog door panel securely in place before leaving for her own office that morning, and there were my two 70 pound, tail-wagging Siberian Huskies waiting joyfully for me in the family room. On the floor, which was now almost pure white, was spread the contents of a 5 pound bag of cooking flour they had grabbed off a counter, along with the shredded remains of newspapers, compressed fire-logs, and other conveniently accessed debris (The Hawaiians would put it this way: “Ha’aha’a haka, pau i ka ilio”, or ‘The contents of a low shelf may be stolen by dogs’). The flapper for the dog door itself I found half way across the yard, along with more shredded remains of stuff removed from the hale in their enthusiastic little jaws, and evidence of several freshly excavated holes. ‘Lilo’, normally a mostly black female, was now as white as a ghost, while ‘Stitch’, my russet colored male, had a white muzzle like an elderly kupuna’s beard. Arrrgh!

After hastily vacuuming up all the flour and resecuring the doggy-door, I donned my road gear and got out the Yamaha for the trip back to work. Thinking I was through with hassles for the day, I drove back to the office and headed for the nearest (free) motorcycle parking area. Rounding the corner, I stopped in the traffic lane nearest the sidewalk on the one-way street and started to ease the bike back into a space on the left end of the designated 10 bike parking space. At that point I looked back to see if anyone was coming in my lane and found a car scant inches away from the front tire of my bike, preventing me from backing the bike into its space off the street. Gestures to the driver of the car (a rotund older man and his equally porky wife) to give me some space produced the opposite reaction…he inched in even closer towards me in an unmistakably menacing manner. Apparently he wanted to turn into the two-story parking structure access lane on my immediate left and felt I was blocking his progress.

At that point, I flipped the jerk off and shouted out a few choice profanities at him, simultaneously wondering how anyone could possibly be so grotesquely antagonistic and blatantly obtuse as to refuse to provide me enough room to maneuver the bike safely out of the lane so that HE could complete his turn. Go figgah, eh! (My mistake here, to call him an okole and flip him off, despite his jerky behavior).

And then it was on: a contest of anger that threatened to escalate rapidly out of hand. Since I am a relatively slender person (6 feet and 155 pounds) whose head was obscured by a helmet, he probably thought I was some kind of a kid on a bike whom he could intimidate. What he didn’t realize was that although I am the soul of patient forbearance and about as courteous and cooperative as anyone could possibly be under the usual circumstances, I am a grown-up person of Irish-French ancestry.  As a person of propriety, I have a flash-temper that once ignited, tends to race out of control like a nuclear reactor towards a meltdown when confronted by gross demonstrations of ignorance and stupidity. How do the French put it? ‘Je ne souffre pas des imbéciles heureusement!’ (‘I don’t gladly suffer fools!’).

Unfortunately, this is a very bad, somewhat arrogant trait and it can lead to some potentially catastrophic situations. Only rarely, have I found myself in a circumstance like this. I can think of only two previous encounters of a similar nature, interestingly both of them also involving a motorcycle. But there we were, this asshole of a jerk threatening me on my bike with his 4,000 pound, 4-wheeled deadly weapon. The meltdown had begun. At that point, having been left no room to either maneuver even if I had wanted to, I put the kickstand down and started to get off the bike, yelling at him to come try to take a piece of me if he felt he wanted to. He made motions to do so, but fortunately for both of us, his wife screamed at him not to and held him back. It’s just as well she had, for if he had gotten out of his car, he surely would have ended up in the hospital ER and I would have been taken into custody for aggravated assault. As it was, I turned back to the bike and was barely able to squeeze it into the space, despite the bumper of his car pressing on my front tire, and at that he screeched past me and up into the parking lot ramp.

It was a very, very close thing, this encounter. Thinking about it now, some days later, it scares me to reflect on how close we had come to what would have to be considered a text-book case of road-rage. The fellow and his wife were likely there to join the demonstrators at the ‘Tea Party’ protest, since I spotted a protest sign in his back seat, and from that I am tempted to conclude that he was another ‘mad-as-hell’, right-wing Republican who was in no mood to tolerate some ‘wimpy biker’ who got in his way. The fact that I have a gray beard and was on a bike very possibly marked me in his mind as another one of those social degenerates who are ‘responsible for all the nation’s problems’…or at least so think a number of these paragons of reactive ignorance. When I got off my bike that day, I was literally quivering with anger. I had come very close to losing it completely and the thought of that simply scares me to death, for it could have changed both our lives in a single careless moment of relaxed constraint…needlessly, unnecessarily, and irrevocably.

The two instances I mentioned above were somewhat similar. In the first example, I was at a gas station, peacefully fueling my motorcycle back in 1983. There were no other customers at the station, but suddenly a car pulled in behind me with an older (60s?) man and his wife in it. Pulling up close to me, he started laying on his car horn and yelling out the window to “Move it, you damned hippy!” Since I am most definitely NOT a hippy freak and having just come from a hard day at the hospital cardiac surgeries where had just I dealt with complicated coronary cases for 8 hours, I was in no mood for dealing with deranged or senile old idiots. Getting off my bike, I walked over to his car, thrust my head in his window and screamed things at him that would have made an Irish sea captain blush scarlet. The volume of my voice was so high I probably did some significant damage to his analog hearing aid and the sound undoubtedly carried for blocks.

For his part, he was so startled by the unexpected fury of my response that he promptly blanched, shrank down in his seat, rolled up the windows, and drove off, thinking that I was perhaps on the verge of committing homicide. I still think about that incident today and realize fully that this kind of rage has absolutely no place in our day-to-day interactions with other people. And yet…there it is. All of these situations occurred without any instigation on my part to incite anyone’s anger. I didn’t engage in any jerky moves, either moving or standing still, and the incidents were entirely and totally without any possible justification I can think of. It reminds me of the title of that book: “Bad things happen to good people.” How true . The acid test, it seems, is to not permit these situations to incite far more serious transgressions of unacceptable interaction. We must, for everyone’s sake, swallow a hell of a lot of bad shit down that would otherwise lead to a lot of choking by both parties to the ensuing explosion of rage. Even if one is a mild-mannered, peaceful person, who always goes way out of the way to NOT incite others to irrational behavior, there will be times when the shit comes flying at your head and you simply can’t duck fast enough to avoid it.

In modern Hawaii (principally on Oahu, and largely in and around Honolulu, it would seem), more and more of these violent incidents appear to be occurring these days. If it isn’t in cars or on motorcycles, it’s in Waikiki or Chinatown clubs, or in certain neighborhoods where ‘locals’ and ‘others’ spontaneously decide to mix it up over perceptions of disrespect. Use of guns and knives is up considerably and manslaughter and homicidal behavior are both escalating daily. While some of the mayhem is doubtless fueled by alcohol and substance abuse, much of it appears to be simply attributable to ignorance and lack of self control on the part of male individuals.

To return to the ‘Tea Party’ remark I made about the average person having the understanding of a mongoloid idiot in complex economic affairs, all of the foregoing is an attempt to explain exactly why I was in such a crappy mood with regard to the ‘Tea Party’ demonstrators in my comments. While a gross and perhaps insulting overstatement, the truth of the sentiment remains undiminished: most ordinary people who show up to demonstrate over complex issues like this have absolutely no greater awareness of the issues they are protesting over. But that’s the nature of reactive populism, isn’t it?

An interesting article in that paragon of blue-blooded right-wing Republican sentiment (the Wall Street Journal) that appeared a day after the 15 April demonstrations observed that it is a favorite traditional stance of the elitist leftist intellectuals to dismiss such public expressions of mass populist protest with sniffy condescension. The remark impressed me, for that is exactly how my own remark apparently came across in my Honolulu Advertiser comment and someone accused me of being one! I’m flattered, I’m sure, but I am actually only a pseudo-intellectual, lacking even a bare approximation of the brilliance of your garden variety Jean Paul Sartre.

So what is my broader point here? Only this: rage, although an unresectable aspect of essential human behavior, needs to be kept under control and in reasonable check. Uncontrolled rage leads to often unanticipated actions productive of tragic consequences, and often of completely preventable acts of criminal consequence. As the ancient Hawaiian culture was well aware, unregulated venting of rage is not supportive of the amicable sense of social cohesion and communal harmony required to further everyone’s interests. Unfortunately, anyone, regardless of how intelligent or how wise, is capable of generating and inappropriately directing rage towards others inadvertently. It is simply a trait that we must always be mindful of, concurrent with the need to instead generate and spread the traditional ‘aloha spirit’ of loving helpfulness whenever and wherever we are able.

As they say in the islands, ‘Aloha mai e!’ (I invite aloha to you), and ‘E hana me ka ha`aha`a’ (Let us work with humbleness). It is the only reasonable way to interact with each other, after all.

Aloha kakou (aloha to you all). Malama pono (maintain excellence/right)!

 

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Reviewed by JASMIN HORST SEILER
You have not only entertained with this story, but expressed sentiments that all of us should heed. Aloha to you, Jasmin Horst

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