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The Hero With The Clipboard

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Maui Vision Magazine.

The Hawaii state motto means that life is perpetuated in a balanced relationship with the land. — Makana

I am rereading Joseph Campbell’s masterwork, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It’s about the ‘monomyth’ that underlies all mythology, as well as your dream life where you struggle to overcome your fears and realize your highest aspirations. “Myth,” Campbell explains, “is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.”

Campbell traces the hero’s journey and transformation through stories and legends that reveal the archetypal hero in all mythologies. He says that heroes are the men and women who battle past their personal limitations; he claims, “the agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth.”

As we struggle to achieve our full potential, we recreate the hero’s journey in our personal lives and as a community. One case in point is the uprising against massive pesticide use in agriculture in our county, compounded by growing GMO seed crops for export. Fear about the impacts on children and public health has spawned a citizen’s movement to make corporations prove that their experiments and pesticides are not harmful. It’s called the SHAKA Movement.

It’s not easy to go up against the corporations that dominate Hawaii AG; they have tremendous influence over their workforce and legislators. Hearing about all the health problems from their neighbors, however, has motivated moms on Molokai and Maui to take action.

As I write, hundreds of ‘pono warriors’ are on the streets of Maui – on Front Street, Hana Highway and South Kihei Road. They’re changing the way we address critical issues by resorting to direct democracy. They are gathering signatures as part of a petition drive whose goal is to put an initiative on the November ballot calling for a moratorium on growing GMOs until they can be proven safe.

The ‘demigod’ Maui not only snared the sun with his fishing net; he challenged mighty Mahu-ika, the guardian of fire, to a tossing contest which he won by causing him to land on his head. Then he cut off the ogre’s head, took the flame and bestowed fire upon the world.

The SHAKA Movement and citizen activists are confronting the GMO / pesticide issue head on, demanding that politicians invoke the public trust doctrine and employ the precautionary principle. State agencies have failed to deal with this dangerous situation, and they have neither the ability nor the will to do so.

Campbell maintains, “the godly powers sought and dangerously won are revealed to have been within the heart of the hero all the time.” So it appears to be with the new wave of activists. In their hearts they know what must be done and they have the courage to take action against the prevailing norms. They know there’s no sustainable future if we keep poisoning paradise.

“In the end,” Campbell explains, “every failure to cope with a life situation [is] a restriction of consciousness. Wars and temper tantrums are the makeshifts of ignorance; regrets are illuminations come too late.” The SHAKA heroes see the outdated corporate practices as just that – unconscious, outmoded and dangerous.

If you are new to this issue, or unconvinced, visit the website. Watch the videos. Pay close attention to what Dr. Don Huber, a plant pathologist, says about Roundup. Look at the chart showing the increase of diseases since glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) was introduced.

To qualify for the ballot, the movement needs the support of 8,500 voters. As I write, thousands of you have already signed on. Clearly the movement has struck a nerve with a public that is afraid no more and is taking action for change.

It’s illuminating to read how the figure of the hero appears in all the world mythologies, including our own Hawaiian legends. Even more enlightening is seeing the heroes in action at the health food store. Join them to liberate your inner hero.

Environmentalist, organic farmer, health advocate and green realtor Mark Sheehan reads to be inspired and acts to make a difference. Email or call 808.283.2158. He is one of the citizen sponsors of the SHAKA initiative.

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