Thursday, June 25, 2015

Go Tell It On The Mountain...#WeAreMaunaKea

Historically mountains have been a symbol of sacredness to almost all peoples and cultures; A high and holy place that connects the heavens and the earth and a place where communion with deity occurs. Moses received the 10 commandments atop Mt. Sinai, the ancient Greeks believed their gods to live atop Mt. Olympus, Mohammed had his vision atop Mt. Hira, and Hindus believe Shiva lives atop Mt. Kailash. Today one of these sacred places is in danger! Mauna Kea stands approx. 13,800 ft tall and is not only the tallest mountain in the pacific basin, but also the highest island mountain in the world. It is arguably one of the most sacred places to Hawaiians, as a place where ancestors are buried, communion with the gods occurs, and heaven connects with earth! It is not only sacred to Hawaiians, but to all Polynesians interconnected throughout time by trade, travel, culture, and the ocean. 

Mana Magazine's article, "The Sacredness of Mauna Kea Explained" by Christine Hitt explains:

"In Hawaiian traditions of creation, the earth mother Papahānaumoku and the sky father Wākea created the islands, with Hawai‘i Island being the first. 'Mauna Kea is considered to be kupuna (elder), the first born, and is held in high esteem. In native traditions, Mauna Kea is identified as ‘Ka Mauna a Wākea’ (The Mountain of Wākea —traditional god and father of Hawai‘i—who’s name is also written as Kea),' described Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele in a 1999 oral history study by Kumu Pono Associates. Because Mauna Kea was the firstborn child of Papa and Wākea, the mauna is considered the piko (navel) of Hawai‘i Island."

Not only is Mauna Kea sacred because it is the piko of Hawaii but also it is an ancient burial site for ancient Hawaiians, the home to many Hawaiian deities, and the location of Lake Waiau, a sacred water source associated with healing and various religious practices.

Hitt goes on to explain:
"It [Lake Waiau] is associated with the god Kāne, and it’s been documented that its water is used in ongoing practices by native healers. Its water is collected, used for ceremonies and for healing. In 1881, Queen Emma visited Waiau and swam across its waters 'on a journey of spiritual and physical well-being.'  Interviews have also been conducted with residents who reported that it was a practice to take a child’s piko (or umbilical cord) to Waiau."

In addition to being the most sacred space in Hawaii, Mauna Kea is also currently an important site to the scientific community and the home of 13 of the world's most powerful telescopes.  Michael West, in his article in Scientific American Journal states, "Perched in the Pacific Ocean, Mauna Kea's peak rises above the bulk of our planet's dense atmosphere, where conditions allow telescopes to obtain images of unsurpassed clarity. This makes Mauna Kea the premier astronomical site in the Northern Hemisphere, if not the world."

The Institute for Astronomy at the University Hawaii states:

Starting in the 1960s, the UH Institute for Astronomy provided the scientific impetus for the development of Mauna Kea into the world's premier site for ground-based astronomical observatories. More major telescopes are now located on Mauna Kea than on any other single mountain peak, and Mauna Kea is widely recognized as offering better conditions for optical, infrared and millimeter/submillimeter measurements than any other developed site

"Mauna Kea is unique as an astronomical observing site. The atmosphere above the mountain is extremely dry -- which is important in measuring infrared and submillimeter radiation from celestial sources - and cloud-free, so that the proportion of clear nights is among the highest in the world. The exceptional stability of the atmosphere above Mauna Kea permits more detailed studies than are possible elsewhere, while its distance from city lights and a strong island-wide lighting ordinance ensure an extremely dark sky, allowing observation of the faintest galaxies that lie at the very edge of the observable Universe. A tropical inversion cloud layer about 600 meters (2,000 ft) thick, well below the summit, isolates the upper atmosphere from the lower moist maritime air and ensures that the summit skies are pure, dry, and free from atmospheric pollutants."

It was because of these conditions that Hawaii's Land board approved Mauna Kea as the site to construct the world's largest telescope; a Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), or giant observatory, that claims to be able to revolutionize humanity's view of the cosmos.

In addition to the TMT being 18 stories tall, FOX NEWS described construction of the telescope in the following:

"The telescope would be able to observe planets that orbit stars other than the sun and enable astronomers to watch new planets and stars being formed. It should also help scientists see some 13 billion light years away for a glimpse into the early years of the universe.
Construction costs are expected to top $1 billion.
The telescope's segmented primary mirror, which is nearly 100 feet long, will give it nine times the collecting area of the largest optical telescopes in use today. Its images will also be three times sharper."
From the very onset of construction in March, Native Hawaiians and their supporters have stood up against the building of the TMT. 

Risking incarceration, fines, and tense interactions with government officials and construction crews, the Native Hawaiians have been dubbed by many as the guardians of the mountain and they continue to rally more to their cause.

These "Ki'ai" or guardians continue to meet opposition with Aloha and peaceful demonstrations. They don't see their actions as protesting but rather protecting a sacred and important part of their culture. 

Thousands of people signed petitions, waved signs, gathered in peaceful demonstrations and posted pictures on social media in support of those taking a stand on the Mauna which caused construction to come to a halt in April.

Since April the numbers on the Mauna have increased as more kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) have made the pilgrimage to Mauna Kea to pay respect, pray, and protect the Mauna.

But despite the increase in opposition to construction of the TMT on Mauna Kea, construction was scheduled to resume on Wednesday, June 24th.

The article "Construction of Giant Telescope Pushes on Despite Protests" By Mike Wall reported in the days proceeding June 24th:

"Our period of inactivity has made us a better organization in the long run," Henry Yang, chair of the TMT International Observatory Board, said in the statement. "We are now comfortable that we can be better stewards and better neighbors during our temporary and limited use of this precious land, which will allow us to explore the heavens and broaden the boundaries of science in the interest of humanity."

"By proceeding with the project, the TMT officials neglect to acknowledge and act on the concerns of citizens of Hawai'i who have voiced their strong disapproval of the project. This action further demonstrates the lack of respect that the State of Hawai'i and project officials have for Native Hawaiians and their culture, in addition to the health and well-being of the people and the environment," members of the group Idle No More Mauna Kea wrote in a Facebook post Sunday (June 21).

"Members of the global Mauna Kea 'Ohana [family] are asked to lift prayers, songs and chants for our mauna [mountain] and those who will be standing physically on the mauna," they added. "Those who are on island and plan to be on the mauna Wednesday morning are asked to bring their highest selves to protect the mauna and stand with compassion, patience, love and forgiveness in their hearts. Bring digital cameras, phones and video cameras to the mauna to document the day as it unfolds."

On June 24th the Guardians on the Mountain again took a stand. This time in numbers of more than 700. Some arrests were made and as the people were forced off the road up the mountain construction crews and police found stone alters, walls, and place holders blocking the road in the stead of the people. 

Construction was again haulted! 

Those supporting the construction of the TMT don't understand all the reasons protecting the Mauna is so important.  Michael Westdirector of Nantucket's Maria Mitchell Observatory and author of A Sky Wonderful with Stars: 50 Years of Modern Astronomy on Maunakea, to be published this month by the University of Hawaii Press states:

"'The ancient Hawaiians were astronomers,' wrote Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last reigning monarch, in 1897. Kilo hōkū, or 'star watchers,' were among the most esteemed members of Hawaiian society. Sadly, all is not well with astronomy in Hawaii today."

He goes on to say that a "small, but vocal minority" stands in opposition to the building of TMT and that, "Science has a cultural history, too, with roots going back to the dawn of civilization. The same curiosity to find what lies beyond the horizon that first brought early Polynesians to Hawaii's shores inspires astronomers today to explore the heavens. Calls to dismantle all telescopes on Mauna Kea or to ban future development there ignore the reality that astronomy and Hawaiian culture both seek to answer big questions about who we are, where we come from and where we are going."

"The TMT represents the continuation of a journey begun long ago. Astronomy is not just the study of distant planets, stars and galaxies. It is also the study of something much closer to home—us. One of astronomy's most profound discoveries is that we are made from the ashes of stars that burned out long ago. Perhaps that is why we explore the starry skies, as if answering a primal calling to know ourselves and our true ancestral homes."

But what West and many others fail to recognize is that these "Esteemed Star Watchers" of the past existed inside the overarching context of Hawaiian Culture. They already understood the importance of the Mauna and had a spiritual connection to it which trumps any attempts made by those who exist outside of Hawaiian Culture to satisfy cultural protocols while maintaining their own agendas. An outsider coming in and building a massive observatory on sacred space is not the same thing as a Kilo Hoku of past and even if the building of a the TMT is in line with a natural evolution of star watching techniques, it is presumptuous and flawed logic to think that a Kilo Hoku would build the TMT or treat the Mauna the same way as outsiders.

Will Falk wrote about the methods of building and scientific advancement that have already been used atop Mauna Kea by these outsiders as acts of violence.

"This is violence....the violence already done to Mauna Kea to build and maintain the 13 telescopes that already exist on the summit. These 13 telescopes required their own dynamite and 38 feet have been cut from the height of Mauna Kea’s summit already. There have been 7 reported mercury spills on the mountain that contains Hawai’i Island’s largest freshwater aquifer." 

"Plants, animals, and insects that live on Mauna Kea are murdered by this mercury and its more than likely that humans – especially children and the elderly – are harmed by this mercury, too."

"Kanaka Maoli are genealogically related to Mauna Kea – it is literally a family member – so to do this kind of violence to the Mauna is to attack an older sibling."

Protecting Mauna Kea: This Is a War by Source on June 23, 2015

West continues by saying, "Some blame for the current controversy belongs to astronomers. In their eagerness to build bigger telescopes, they forgot that science is not the only way of understanding the world. They did not always prioritize the protection of Mauna Kea's fragile ecosystems or its sanctity to the islands' inhabitants. Hawaiian culture is not a relic of the past; it is a living culture undergoing a renaissance today."

He then concludes, "In the spirit of compromise, the astronomy community is changing its use of Mauna Kea. The TMT site was chosen to minimize the telescope's visibility around the island and to avoid archaeological and environmental impact, and the TMT will pay $1 million annually (in addition to the STEM funding mentioned earlier) to lease the land on which it resides, with 80 percent of those funds going to stewardship of the mountain. To limit the number of telescopes on Mauna Kea, old ones will be removed at the end of their lifetimes and their sites returned to a natural state."

But in reality, any compromise that West or any others come up with does the same thing as scientists of old by treating Hawaiian Culture as a relic of the past. 

Building the TMT is just the most recent invasion in a long line of violent invasions and cultural concessions the Hawaiian People have endured. The reason only a "small but vocal" population is opposed to the TMT is because the once thriving and indelendent nation of Native Hawaiians has been marginalized to a mere 25% of the 1.42 million people living in Hawaii today. 

What was once an independent nation, a self-sufficient and ecologically light footed population existing in harmony with nature and happy to share their culture and island with other peoples, has been illegal annexed by the United States, had their rights stripped, and the importance of their culture, language and customs minimized.

Any attempt at compromise that is not generated from the Kanaka Maoli is patronizing at best and imperialistic at worst! If the scientific community wants to use the top of the sacred mountain, I suggest they first obtain permission from the people the mountain really belong to, not the pretended political organizations and institutions that are currently set up! 

Kū Ki'ai Mauna! 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Father's Name!

Gearing up for my very first Father's Day as a father, I've had a lot of time to reflect on the things my father has passed on to me, like he's a social butterfly, he loves UCLA, and he loves spending time with his family! 

If you've met my Dad, you know that he is a fun loving, easy going, and generous individual! He is a peacemaker in our family, and has a quiet dignity about him (which I attribute to his parent's attempt to raise him as elegant, high-society boy).  He is extremely giving and humble and kind.

With this long list of great qualities, if you know me, you're probably wondering, "So what exactly did you get from your father?!" I admit, my feisty personality many times seems at odds with the attributes I've described my father as having, but I hope to have inherited a fraction of those characteristics that I admire so much about my father!

But perhaps the thing I'm most proud of that inherited from my Dad is something I'm excited to pass on! It's a rare treasure, and not many people have it....

...The DOWDEN Name! 

171 years ago Edwin Dowden was born to James Walter Dowden and Jane Elizabeth Stroud. He would be one of the three children to survive to adulthood out of the six children they had, and the only one to leave his home in Brighton, Sussex, England and set sail for America and the promise of a new life and a new religion. Edwin would also be the only child to pass on his Father's name: Dowden. His older brother, Frederick Charles would remain in England and have only 1 daughter, while their younger sister Caroline would travel to New Zealand and marry twice but have no children of her own.

It has been said by the Roman Historian Publius that, "Posterity gives every man his true value." I wonder if this principle was a motivating factor for Edwin as he would father 12 children with his wife Naomi Debenham once he reached Utah. However, passing on a name is more difficult than just having children. Of the 12, only 5 lived to adulthood and of the 5 only 2 were sons: Shirley Willard and Charles Frederick.

Shirley never married and never had any children, But Charles had three sons to continue his father's legacy.

Of the 18 grandchildren of Edwin, 3 would carry on his name: Charles Jr, Lynn Jensen, and Kenneth Boyd.

With each generation, Edwin's posterity would practically double in size, however the number of sons to carry the Dowden name would remain small in comparison.

Edwin's great-grandchildren would number around 40, but only 6 sons would have the Dowden surname. Charles bore 3 sons: Monty, Marvin, and Gary. Lynn would have one son: Greg. And Boyd would produce the final 2: Stephen and Ronald.

In the next generation, Edwin would have more than eighty 2nd great-grandchildren and only 5 would have the potential to perpetuate the Dowden moniker.

I think of Edwin often. In fact, hardly a day goes by that he doesn't at least cross my mind. I wonder if he had any idea how his decisions would have the potential to impact his posterity 171 years later. He left his family, his home, and everything familiar to start a new life in a new country.

As one of his 2nd great-grandsons it amazes me how so many blessings in my life are a direct result of a choice someone made 171 years ago. Every time I sign my name, or see it printed on something a small tinge of gratitude flashes across my mind that I am lucky enough to carry his name and be able to pass it on so that he will not be forgotten.

I am grateful and excited that in his most recent generation of posterity which number around 200, the Dowden name has been passed on to two more sons: Ronan and Briggs Dowden. Within them is the potential to carry on the memory of Edwin and perpetuate his legacy.

I'm grateful for the long heritage associated with my name and I associate many of the good qualities of my father with this name he's given me. Hopefully I will be able to teach my son to respect and honor his name and to carry on this legacy of love, sacrifice and faithfulness to his future children!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Are You An Internet Pharisee?

Ever since the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started to encourage the church's members to have a more active presence on the Internet, share their beliefs and testimonies, and be an influence for good online, it seems that a large portion of well-behaved members have grossly misinterpreted this charge.

Instead of being shining examples of Jesus Christ, the posts in my news feed over the past few years appear more like they are written by tyrannical Pharisees who feel the need to jump right into the powder keg of emotionally charged political and socially controversial topics in order to "defend the faith" and "promote good."

The sad part is that the mud that these "good people" sling is only distinguishable from the rest of mud flying around from the mainstream media by its particularly potent stench of hypocrisy and it's ability to wound the broken-hearted and down trodden as it is flung in the name of "Christ"! 

These "Christian" Internet crusaders take a stand through their posts in the name of God in ways that are not only offensive, judgmental, and rude, but also in the most unChristlike tone.

Gay Marriage becomes legal in a state, they feel the need to "Share" the Proclamation on the family to remind everyone that they feel homosexuality is a sin. A transgender person makes the cover of a magazine, and they choose to share a dissertation about how transgender people have mental illness and throw in the family proclamation to justify their opinions as being those of Jesus Christ's! Popular Bloggers, feminists, or those whose opinions differ from the Official Church Rhetoric are excommunicated and these people feel compelled to remind everyone how those who express differing opinions are apostates and deserve to be "cut off" from God. Never in my life have I seen so much mud thrown in the name of God, Church, and defending beliefs, as I have in the past 10 years! And the sad part is, it is only increasing and the mud is hardening into stone!

In John Chapter 8 we read:

3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

And the mainstream media brought unto "them" a transgender on the cover of vogue, a homosexual couple adopting a child, a community of Muslims desiring to build a mosque, or whatever potential story or principle which is out of harmony with your particular religious beliefs.

6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

Never has the age old adage "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" been more applicable than in this day and age where it's easier to throw the stones of judgement and condemnation in relative anonymity from behind our computer screens. We don't even have to view the damage they cause or the harm they do.

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

A true Christian believes that the ONLY one with the right to judge is Christ and we may well be surprised that he is a lot more understanding and forgiving than we mere mortals tend to be.

So, instead of wallowing in the mud and stirring the controversy in order to get more clicks, what SHOULD we be doing if we want to follow the counsel of Church leaders to flood the Internet with "Good"? 

The official Church Handbook states: 

"Members are encouraged to use the Internet to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel. They should view blogs, social networks, and other Internet technologies as tools that allow them to amplify their voice in promoting the messages of peace, hope, and joy that accompany faith in Christ."

"Members are encouraged to share messages from official Church websites and social accounts, as well as their own words, images, and media. As members express their own thoughts and feelings, they should not give the impression that they represent or are sponsored by the Church."
"As members use the Internet to hasten the work of the Lord, they should exemplify civility and focus on sharing praiseworthy messages that strengthen those with whom they come in contact."
Elder L. Tom Perry taught when speaking about the appropriate way to share the gospel online, "Our lives should be examples of goodness and virtue as we try to emulate His example to the world. Good works by each of us can do credit both to the Savior and His Church. As you are engaged in doing good, being honorable and upright men and women, the Light of Christ will be reflected by your lives."
No where in the "official" charge does it say stand up and defend the faith by pointing out what's wrong in others! 
There is so much good happening in the world! Instead of commenting on what we think is wrong, why do we not share the things that are right!? Articles that are uplifting and praiseworthy and ones that reflect people's good works. We should seek after these things as the 13th Article of Faith suggests. These are the types of articles we should be flooding the Internet with. These good works can be attributed to the light of Christ and an opportunity to bear testimony arises. 
When we take the time to sling mud these faith promoting articles get overlooked. The other day I learned about an amazing story of how a people who were destitute shared their means with another people whom they felt were in even greater need. This story was incredible, inspiring, faith-promoting and almost completely overlooked by the more titillating debate to pass judgement on the recent vogue cover! 
I have heard it said, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything," but if what you "stand for" is pointing fingers, passing judgement, and tearing other people down, then haven't you already fallen?!?
Here are four guidelines to use to evaluate the posts you write, read, and share on the Internet:
1. Does it build someone up or tear someone down? Whether or not you agree with the actions of the person - are you showing compassion and love to them or just condemning their actions?
2. Does it make you feel the spirit? Remember the fruits of the spirit are love, peace, meekness, gentleness, happiness. The spirit uplifts and invites and entices to do good. Or does it make you feel justified, vindicated, or "righteous" indignation? 
3. Does it open the door for you to share your testimony of Christ in a productive way where the spirit can be felt and both parties are edified together? Or, does it open the door for you to share your testimony to be received in a hostile and confrontational way? We call this bashing - usually the testimony bearing is just trying to be right, not trying to be kind!
4.  Does it use words like disagree, disgust, angry, enraged, or place you in a position where you feel you have moral superiority over others? Or does it teach correct principles and stir up your mind to the things the Savior taught?
If you find that you are on the wrong side of any of these guidelines you may want to reassess what you write, post, and share. They may in fact be the hurtful stones of a Pharisee instead of the helpful teaching tools of the Savior that you originally thought them to be.
It's ok to disagree with MOST of what the mainstream media shares and posts. I don't think it's a bright revelation that they generally do NOT represent the good in the world. But it's important to consider the WAY you disagree! The scriptures teach that you may know a true disciple of Christ by the fruit they bear. If all you have to offer are sour grapes about your disgust, disappointment, or disagreement with what other people are posting, sharing, or doing, then it's hard to see any "Good Fruit" you might possess. 
If you don't like that someone is being called a hero, why don't you share stories about some heroes in your life. How did they help you? How do they point to Christ? You needn't even mention what you are disagreeing with, because that would detract and detour from your message of Christ! If find a cover of a magazine pornographic, why draw more attention to it? Instead share articles about some people you find particularly virtuous. Bear testimony about how virtue has affected your life! Point to Christ! If we flood the Internet in this way, then we truly are allowing correct principles to be taught and hearts to change.
We need to re-examine our posts! If they in ANY way even suggest condemnation, passing judgement, or calling out sin we should remember those truly on the Lord's side don't cast stones! Let's take a higher road, and follow the counsel of our leaders, and most importantly the example of our Savior! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Proposal

On November 19th I proposed to my girlfriend...

Ana Eileen Aiono

Earlier in the week, Ana's Sister-in-law sent us a text asking us to come see her son (Ana's nephew) perform at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica at 8:00 pm on Saturday night. Naturally, Ana and I agreed to go!

When we arrived at the Promenade, Ana had no idea what was about to happen. Our families had arrived there about an hour earlier and practiced what was about to happen. Ana's niece, Morgan, had made signs that corresponded with the lyrics of Me and Ana's song, "Stereo Hearts" by Gym Class Heroes. My best-friend, Josh, brought the Boom Box and Music. We walked up the Promenade to the right spot. Ana's brother, Martin greeted us and distracted us until the time was just right. 

Then as we walked closer to the spot, Josh and Morgan came up behind us and started playing the song. As we kept walking all of a sudden the entire family appeared and Ana heard and saw....

"If I could only find a note to make you understand...

I'd sing it softly in your ear and and grab you by the hand...

Just keep it stuck inside your head like your favorite tune...

And know my heart's a stereo that only plays for you...

My heart's a stereo...

It beats for you so listen close...

Hear my thoughts in every No-o-ote...

Make me your radio...

And turn me up when you feel low...

This melody was meant for you...

Just sing-a-long to my stereo..."






It was pretty awesome! But to find out what she said, I guess you'll have to watch the video...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"I spy, with my little eye...."

So it's been forever since I've blogged, and I thought it was time to share with the world some of the adventures I've had and you might have missed over the past couple months. Pay attention because this is gonna move kind of fast! Here goes, 
"I spy with my little eye..."

A family vacation to Lake Powell....

A "DTR"...

A roadtrip to Utah...

A Common King's concert...

A "relationship status update" on Facebook...

A Cousin's missionary homecoming AND finding waldo...

A Halloween Hickey...

A Haircut (in an Anjelah Johnson voice "just one")...

A High School Volleyball Game...

An unexpected visit from friends...

A playdate with a future nephew & niece...

A smaller closet...


Someone to share all of my adventures with!