Reflections From A Crew Member

Kawika_KomineCrew Blog by Kawika Komine
Reflections from Leg 31

Just over a week after leaving Tautira, we are well into our final leg of 31, with three years of sailing our canoes around the world promoting the importance of caring and nurturing our oceans, lands and resources coming to a close.

As we approach the equator on our voyage home to Hawaiʻi, I have had a chance to reflect back on our mission and the different cultures and countries I have had the opportunity to see.

This voyage has allowed me to visit places that are the stuff dreams are made of, places I never would have dreamt of ever seeing in my lifetime. It has been an adventure to be sure – but wherever I went, I also learned that every country has environmental, cultural or marine crises on the rise, where even with immediate action, the consequences may be irreversible.

From warming sea temperatures to deforestation and the negative impact to native peoples in their homelands, the repercussions are profound. We learned that the damage and destruction to many island cultures is of absolutely no fault of their own, but they will suffer and have the most to lose. Watching a culture thousands of years old slowly die is one of the saddest things to witness.

The challenge to provide for our communities in a sustainable manner should be the goal of every country on this earth. Sadly, greed, corruption and corporate profit often rear their ugly heads and ruin the best intentions of those who know and try their best. In some countries, people have lost their lives in their effort to protect their resources and indigenous people.
I hear from many – both young and old alike – that their voices fall on deaf ears, or government is not working in our best interest. I think about us, the crew of the Worldwide Voyage, and how we set out at great risk to ourselves on a mission of awareness and the importance of this island we all live on called Earth. We sail because we believe there are ways to make positive change. Reflecting on what I have learned and experienced, here are some ways I think we can all move towards a better future:

Youth – Our mission on this Voyage is to educate children of all walks of life about the importance of our oceans and earth and the resources that provide life for all. By setting the groundwork for our youth, we hope that as they become adults and leaders they will have a clear understanding of the importance of a sustainable planet. The additional benefit is that when children are interested, their parents are informed and supportive as well – so in focusing on our youth, we engage communities in caring for our future.

Education – By sharing the knowledge, experiences and lessons learned through voyaging and the places we have visited throughout this Worldwide Voyage, we can share how others are working to make positive, long lasting sustainable decisions for future generations, and hope that others will learn and do the same. Awareness, education and positive action are key to any change.

Voice – You may think your one voice means nothing, but when you blend your voice with two other like-minded thinkers it becomes twelve times stronger – any one crew member by themselves cannot sail a voyaging canoe, but 12 together can circumnavigate the globe. The voices and actions of many along with the power of social media can and has made worldwide change. I once got into a debate about change and was shut down when told a simple fact – society dictates.

Belief – It is much easier to achieve something when you believe in it and know it is the right thing to do. Protecting something you love and provides for you is instinctual. It was for the ancient Hawaiians as they believed and understood that they were only stewards of their land and resources, not the owners – it is for us today as voyagers and island people, and it should be for every member of our global family on this entire island we call Earth.

My eyes have opened much wider now that I have seen that the challenges others face in distant lands are similar to what we have here in Hawaiʻi, and that by sharing past experiences and solutions we can eliminate the learning curve and avoid the mistakes made along the way. Our world is like an island in the sense that if you go completely around it you are right back where you started. The important thing we must remember is that there is no other Island Earth we can sail to. We need to care for our earth the same way we would care for our elderly parents – in a kind, loving manner and with careful planning.

This Worldwide Voyage has allowed me to see islands in different oceans rise up out of the water. As I write this, I’m filled with the anticipation of seeing and experiencing what the first Hawaiians did almost two thousand years ago – the wonder and joy of finding a place described as paradise that we proudly call home.

David Komine
Leg 31
Almost 0 degrees latitude

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