Recently, I took a vacation to Hawaii. One of the last things we did was look at a "Living History Coffee Farm." This was not something we had planned, this was something to do between check-out time and flight time. This turned out to be one of the memorable moments of the trip.
As I drove to the farm, which was very conveniently located, I noticed the landscape changing from the almost-desert of North Kona into the green South Kona. The farm was a tiny remnant of 1913. There was a donkey, a proper sized donkey, unlike the tiny wild desert donkeys I'd seen just about every day. This donkey, according to the shopkeeper, is 20 years old, named Charlie, and his job was to look pretty and take pictures with people. However, a sign alerted me to the fact that Charlie's earlier farm relatives were not so lucky. A donkey his size would have carried four bags of coffee! And probably worked to death. :-(
Beyond the donkey, there were both macadamia trees and coffee trees, and working equipment from the early 1900s. The work the people must have put into this farm was more that most Americans today would bother with. Picking, pruning, drying, packaging, on top of daily simple living. They dried the coffee in the sun, but they had to move it if there was even the slightest chance of rain, because rain would ruin it.
But the part I really wanted to mention was the farm house. The very small farm house that housed 8-12 children. The people who worked the coffee land were Japanese, so this was a very Japanese style home. They had straw mats on the floor, a rice cooker, and the women in charge showed us how the mother (who would have been sent to marry the man, sight unseen) would make meals and clothing for 8-12 children. It was eye-opening.
They also showed us a typewriter. Every Japanese family had one for the children, as they prioritized education over so many other things.
There were lots of things that we talked about - how nice and simple life must have been. How much work. How how it was. We were left with one unanswered question, purposely avoided, and that was of Japanese Internment during WWII. This came up when we saw that the tenant cabin was turned into a required bomb shelter during the war.
But I keep going back to that typewriter and the prioritization of education. These were people who made clothing from old rice bags. People who worked 12 to 16 hours a day, and they wanted their children to be educated.
What the hell is wrong with Americans and this culture of anti-intellectualism? We didn't have a revolution (like China) where we collectively looked down on the intellectuals as being part of the elite. But for some reason we are still equating that who has the most money with intelligence.
Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a revolution. People crowding the streets of their capitals (well, not mine, they put mine on an island (essentially, not technically) and a flight from the biggest city is still $400ish for a last minute flight). I'd love to see people shunning the rich and powerful bourgeoisie. I'd like to see things like the Oscars, where rich people give other rich people awards and wear overpriced clothing get cancelled. I want the masses to come together and forget about which Kardashian is getting married and who is having a baby and instead talk about what they are willing to do to fight climate change. To change the minds of the millions of very terrible people who seem to think that no one is owed anything, including an education. I want to find a way to get everyone working for spending power, shorter work weeks, better work/life separation & balance.
I understand that people can care about both the K family and Climate Change. The K family aren't the problem, but the lack of interest in education is.I want women and men to be recognized for what they can do, not their instagram feed. To find value in being smart and friendly and changing the world for the better, not for having two phones. (Seriously the dumbest song I've heard in a month or so. In another month there will be another terrible pop song.)