What a day it was in our borrowed TV studio yesterday! We were enthralled at old Hawaiian wisdom, shared by a man in his 40s, applied to today's polarized politics. And we shed tears, repeatedly, in hearing of the extreme deprivation and pain that marked the childhood of another man, who became a distinguished educator in our community.
We were taping two Long Story Short shows, conversations with:
--Enterprise Honolulu CEO Pono Shim, raised by political strategists and visionaries Alvin and Marion Heen Shim in a comfortable home in Honolulu
--And with Mid-Pacific Institute President Joe Rice, who grew up in a station wagon and tents in farms up and down several Western states.
Pono shared amazing stories passed on to him by wise elders including the late Pilahi Paki, known as a Hawaiian keeper of secrets. These stories amount to parables. Old knowledge that we've forgotten but which works for today's issues. These stories don't tell you what to think, they make you think. You find yourself having an epiphany and your world shifts.
Joe spoke openly and matter-of-factly about his deeply troubling childhood as the oldest kid in a large family of migrant farm workers traveling routinely between lower California and Canada to pick crops. The family was routinely hungry, living in poverty, and he and his siblings were exposed to alcoholism and physical, verbal and sexual abuse. After a bloody tangle with his stepfather, Joe ran away from home at 17 and worked multiple jobs to put himself through college. He wouldn't borrow money or do anything that reminded him of his stepfather. Education was the gateway to his current life as a caring husband and father, and the leader (16 years now) of a respected private school in Honolulu.
As Joe spoke, tears welled up in his eyes. Mine too. Other members of our crew blinked back tears or cried openly. Staffer Terrence Quinsaat crawled on the floor, out of sight of the camera, to make sure that Joe had enough tissues. Tissues were in use, all around. In fact, we need to buy more. Joe's is a story of perseverance, resilience, survival, achievement.
I think you'll want to see these Long Story Short shows for broadcast in the new year. We'll let you know the air dates when the schedule is set.