Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bouncing Into Graceland


Early Hawaiians had a strong sense of justice and morality which they codified as the Kapu, code of conduct.  They believed that violation of this code constituted a crime not only against their community and social contract but also against larger spiritual forces; a theft of mana.  The penalty for such a crime was Ko'o Kapu, death, typically enforced by chasing the offender down on foot and killing them by hand.

This strikes me as a severe system of punishment for what are generally known as peaceful and laid-back people.  It smacks of the unfairness of life, the lack of forgiveness and permanent nature of our mistakes.  Further, it shows how prevalent ruling with fear is, that the practice of social control through brute force is, and has been, pervasive among all human cultures.  The Hawaiians, however, have a loophole.  If you were convicted but could outrun your captors and reach a place a refuge, a Puuhonua, then you were granted immunity as long as you resided within its walls.  Some of these places of refuge were only reached by water.

I think it is important for all of us to remember that even in our darkest hours, even when faced with oppression, evil, or our own demons overpowering our better angels, there are always places of refuge, lands of grace, if only we can find our way.  

To Listen to Paul Simon's Graceland:


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