Commentaries are intended to start conversations
I don’t fully agree with all of the opinions and interpretations expressed (by me) in my commentaries, but that’s okay. My primary motivation in writing a commentary is to provoke conversation about public matters. Being “right” or “wrong” is a secondary motivation.
I consider a commentary to be successful if it provokes conversation. I am equally satisfied with the following two responses:
1) “That idea is ignorant; he doesn’t understand Samoans or know about our history. His ideas are wrong.”
2) “He has hit the nail on the head and shown wise insights into our local situation.”
The beauty of response #1 is that anyone who says that has automatically starting thinking about “what is our history? What is the Samoan way? What observations do I consider disagreeable? What do I believe?”
These kinds of thoughts inside our own heads help clarify what a person believes. Further clarification emerges when those kinds of thoughts are shared and discussed with a spouse, family members, co-workers, friends, fellow church congregants, team members, etc.
They say the power of the pen is mightier than the sword, and here’s why: when people think about an idea and debate it with others, at some point they arrive at a belief that they are prepared to defend and promote with their actions. (Hopefully, they won’t be using a sword in American Samoa to defend and promote their beliefs.)
Here is one of the beliefs I have: American Samoa would greatly benefit from more people realizing what they believe in, and then defending and promoting those beliefs.
There is much at stake here as American Samoa grapples with its emergence from a traditional society to being part of the modern interconnected world. There are questions about cultural perpetuation, economic development, environmental protection, immigration and emigration, economic control, social cohesion, and other matters.
In the absence of specific “pushback”, the power and influence of money and internationalism will mindlessly overpower whatever local concerns we may or may not have.
The only way to prevent that is to KNOW and ESTABLISH (with community consensus) our specific American Samoan aspirations (hopes, dreams, plans, intentions), Then we need to adopt measures that allow those concerns to be defended and promoted in a world where U.S. and global pressures will never go away.
The only way to KNOW and ESTABLISH local aspirations is with a continuous conversation amongst the people and the leaders; these commentaries are a small contribution to those conversations. Feel free to love them or hate them, but please use them to help define what is important to you and your community.