Archive for March, 2011

Resolutions Against Families

March 25, 2011

State of Hawaii
House of Representatives
26th Legislature, 2011

House Resolution 155 and House Concurrent Resolution 179 (HR155, HCR179) purport to affirm a “parental rights” amendment to United States Constitution. However, Hawaii representatives should pay attention to the details of the resolutions and the hidden agenda they bring.

HR155 and HCR 179 initially focus on children’s education and the right of parents to choose a child’s education. The resolutions endorse the United States Supreme Court decision in Wisconsin vs. Yoder finding that Amish children could not be placed in compulsory education without violating parent’s freedom of religion. The decision upholds the respect our Constitution has for the separation of church and state regardless whether the strict religious principles are in the best interests of the child.

In contrast, the resolutions dismiss the nuanced wisdom of the United States Supreme Court decision in Troxel vs. Granville wherein the court held that “The custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder.”

Troxel does not limit parental rights to six different opinions as purported by the proposed resolutions, rather, it is much broader in scope and far more affirmative of parental rights than Yoder.

The resolutions also purport that Troxel creates confusion and ambiguity about the fundamental nature of parental rights declared in the case. Yet the Troxel decision stands because it has unequivocably established that “the custody, care and nuture of the child reside first in the parents.”

Thus, the proposed Constitutional amendment appears to oppose it’s stated purpose. What, then, could be the purpose of the amendment?

It is important to consider that the resolutions cite a version of the amendment proposed by U.S. Congress member Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) who first made headlines by announcing that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. Since no such weapons were actually found, the incident is revealing in that the Congressman may not be the best source for a Constitutional amendment. Rep Hoekstra’s amendment purports to prevent the erosion of parental rights by taking away the non-discriminatory parenting rights confirmed in the Troxel case and replacing it with rights of religious freedom in the Yoder case.

In today’s society of mixed, blended, and multiple families, the amendment does nothing to clarify what is a parent. At the same time, it would increase the power of parents to protect religious practices that may not be in the best interests of families or children.

In our courts, the resolutions would entrench the much maligned tradition of granting parental rights to a “custodial parent” where the other parent becomes no more than a visitor in his or her children’s lives. Conflict in our adversarial family court system would be sure to increase as parents use the amendment to assert religion over the best interests of the child.

Hawaii would do better, instead, to consider a bill similar to South Dakota’s House Bill 1255 (Argus Leader, 2/16/11). This “Shared Parenting” bill would allow Hawaii to enter the 21st Century where divorce may be deemed, when appropriate, a legal manuever for power and control of the children in a relationship. Such a bill would protect our children far better than the proposed Constitutional amendment.

In a global context, the proposal is xenophobic. The proposed resolutions would prevent us from interpreting emerging data in the nascent science of parental rights. In the presence of world-wide phenomena, such as parental alienation and parental abuduction, such an amendment would prevent us from forming laws that are truly in the best interests of the children.

Further, the dogmatic form of the proposed resolutions would undermine the Supreme Court’s insistence on parental rights and defer those rights to religious organizations. We would simply substitute religious governance for governance of, by and for the people.

If we ignore the powerful religions that would control our government, we would be ignoring a creeping, irrational fundamentalism. Religions and the families of religious institutions can be better protected without this Constitutional amendment.

If we ignore the ever-expanding data on families, we would ignore a better world where families can be confident of choices they make for their children. Without this amendment, we can be assured that families–not religions–provide their sons and daughters with the best possible upbringing.

Yoder is a good case that protects religious freedom within families, but it is not appropriate for asserting unqualified parental rights that may increase the chance that our keiki may be abused and that their abusers will be protected.

Troxel is a United States Supreme Court case with fundamental human rights at its very core. Troxel argues, in effect, for a presumption of equally shared parenting that respects the rights of both parents to raise the child and respects the right of the child to be raised by both parents.

As proposed, these resolutions are not in the best interests of our keiki.

Please do not support HCR 179 or HR 155 as proposed. These resolutions are against our best interests; for our keiki, for our families, for our Hawaii, for our United States, and for the world in which we live.

On the web:
Argus Leader
Pete Hoekstra, (R-MI)(Wikipedia)
Troxel (Wikipedia)
Yoder (Wikipedia)
Hearing Announcement
Hawaii Reporter for HR155, HCR179


Space Age Parents

March 8, 2011

I recently listened to a couple of podcasts on the last launch of the Shuttle Discovery. I’m embarrassed over how to simply capitalize the name of the iconic, most storied of the near-earth-orbiting vehicles. If it is just a survivor, a depreciated asset, a deflated hope of pie-eyed optimism of bygone generations, is it worth any attention? Or is it, despite our NASA throttling, myopic fiscal pork-barrel incinerating stinginess, an American institution deserving of our planetary confidence and personal respects?

Is Discovery an old friend who has served on 133 storied missions in its 30-plus-year history or is it a shared object that has united a global community who have learned to look with a sky-eyed view upon the earth from their cell-phones.

Time moves on. The world changes. Perspectives change. We forget.

It is the last of it’s own missions, the very last for Discovery, as though there were no more to be discovered, no more inspiration and no more hope. But not for the two last–the two more of our iconic shuttle-winged, earth-orbit and return vehicles–who have yet to (anthropomorphizing) explore. Because, colonization, as much as it is a dream, or a west-ward bound novel, it is also a part of who we are.

Indistiguishable as these earth-orbiters are, there is a mythos attached to each of them. Any orbiter seems to be one unique and powerful planetary exit and return vehicle. Then again, each embodies very many more. They created and colonized an orbiting space station in reality, the ISS, painstakingly, year-in and year-out, and, in fantasy, a la James Bond, all at once. They photographed hurricane Ivan in a mundane, yet spectacular, low-earth orbit that gave researchers years of data to interpret and, in a literary flourish, destroyed a planet killer asteroid a la Bruce Willis and, with special effects, ignited a world of passion whose existence was as much reliant on them as it was saved by them. The lives of these man-made machines were duplicitous, but always purposeful.

The shuttles were heroes and victims, themselves. They served faithfully and transported their human cargo with care. Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavor, and the fallen Challenger and Columbia. They have done more to build a world community than democracy or capitalism could have hoped for. When you give a kid a dream, by jiminy, you may get what you asked for.

These ships, these shuttles that only hint at what we can do, are more the property of humanity than they are of any government on earth. They have transcended, and made mundane, the extraordinary. These vessels of international science and extraterrestrial exploration have carried a universal compliment of human crew-members who profess to many different faiths but come back to earth of one mind as they have come to understand their part in human-kind.

There may yet be, in our future, different vehicles that carry us–fragile human life-forms as we are–out beyond the inner planets, beyond the outer planets, and, perhaps one day, onto other stars. But for the past 30 years, we have never had as many eyes on the heavens and have never had so many viewing from above.

Discovery’s last launch was the beginning of the end of an era. Atlantis and Endeavor will launch, each, one last time. A chapter in the history of humanity will close. Or not.

What is my job as a space-age parent? I don’t know yet. We haven’t reached our limits. We haven’t gone as far as we can. We haven’t explored all that there is. We don’t understand all that there is to understand. That is what we leave to our children.

Road Closed

March 5, 2011

In my last post, I lamented the lack of paradisical sunshine for our guests, our relatives from down under, visitors who are family, and who were subjected to precipitous events taking place, resorting to the claustrophobic refuge of an undersized vehicle in a downpour, telling jokes to ward off ancient Hawaiian kapus.

Today, I wonder at those and other events unfolded as of late; a tree down on the Pali, a landslide, the Windward side closed, the Honolulu side barricaded. If the wrath of a Hawaiian god or two had been incurred, it happened long before my cousin bought his ticket and became a victim of its circumstance.

Two hundred years ago, the Pali was a thousand foot palisade intraversible by any but the most fit, balanced and skilled climbers. A hundred years ago, the only Windward passage was a narrow single lane road fit more for cattle drives than for motor vehicle transportation.

Today, the Pali is a bustling four lane highway at a vulnerable thousand feet above sea level, a perpetually potential victim of unpredictable elements, a tenuous transverse of Oahu’s vast tropical inland forests that, in total (secrets be told), capture over 90% of our drinking water. Like a key to our survival, the Pali calmly interlocks a smooth paved passageway, a convenient access road linking tens of thousands of suburbans to our cosmipolitan hub and, in total, makes habitation possible on this bobbing island rock in the midriff of the largest tectonic plate on the planet.

One landslide spills enough debris to cut off access from Windward to Honolulu. One tree-fall, strategically shuts down our mid-island passage for thousands of morning commuters. The road design, a passage cut from aging volcanic rock and a moldering, elevated, tropical rain forest, is not an issue. The issue is that our Windward family can be so quickly and terminably shut out of our community.

Sure, we have the Makapu’u round about; Honolulu’s Eastbound Federal Interstate Highway that leads to a sterile bucolic rural road protected by state laws preserving a by-gone time as much as it is threatened by the next tsunami. And the tsunami is not only a threat from rogue Pacific waves as much as it is a threat from our ever-expanding cosmopolitan gentry.

Without the convenience of our Pali, Honolulu via Makapu’u, utimately, we would have to acknowledge Waimanalo, our agricultural bastion and deposition of low-income native Hawaiian families bordered by a coast-sucking elite. Only passing through about four miles of a formidable two-lane road with locals abiding by the oppressive, yet honorable, protocol of letting left-hand turners through, can one re-enter the semi-cosmopolitan and appropriately sub-urban atmosphere of Enchanted Lakes, Lanikai and Kailua proper.

The lesson is that more than time and space separate us, but physical distance is a matter to be considered, especially when a mountain range and tropical forest separate us.

Outside of the alternatives, it appears that no Hawaiian god–nor for that matter, any other God–has the power to undo the separation of families, of brothers, of sisters, of parents from children from this side to that side of the Koolau divide. Nor can we explain the difference in world-view from those East of the Koolaus who see rain everyday and sunshine on occasion and those West who run to Waikiki’s cool ocean waters, braving box jellyfish after the new moon, and defining their own personal Hawaiian experience through sunset at Dukes.

It appears that the road is closed in more ways than one. Can we not understand the diversity that Hawaiian’s endured? Can we not understand the mixed Hawaiian-cultural heritage? Can we not understand that the road is closed not only by the most severe of natural occurrences including high winds, rains and earth-shaking moments. But also, of anger and ignorance, human as they may be, more volatile than geological upheaval and more permanently damaging, in our lives, than a 4×4 yellow caution sign that simply closes a lane.

The road is closed does not mean that we are forever separated. It is an obstacle, to be sure. The inconvenience has cost us in ways we can not imagine. But the road is not terminated. The road, the path, the way we meet is still there.