There is a cultural controversy occurring in Hawaii over whether it is right – a moral, not legal issue – for the state to build a $1.4 billion thirty-meter (18 stories!) telescope on Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii.
Ethnic Hawaiian elders claim this state-owned site has religious significance and want to prevent the telescope’s construction.
I am not Native Hawaiian, just another fourth-generation local. Yet, there seems to be no greater technological end to the ancient Polynesians’ Pacific Ocean crossing than this telescope.
A telescope is not a shopping mall or a factory. A telescope represents hope, wonder, and an explorer’s heart. We are seekers, believers, and dreamers. It is why we look to the stars and see pictures in the clouds. This passion urged the original settlers of the Hawaiian Islands to put their faith in the sea, the stars, and each other.
A telescope costs millions, requiring patience, skill, and faith, yes, faith, to operate. Astronomers and astrophysicists look up and away from Earth while everyone else only looks down and around. They are an odd breed for studying and observing that which the rest of humanity takes for granted.
I imagine those first gutsy Polynesians would look upon Mauna Kea telescope and say, “Huh, they’re still looking outward. Wonder what else they can find.”
We are all on a spiritual journey seeking our better selves. The destination isn’t one house, one island, or one mountain. When we attach, super glue style, to a material object, we fixate on it instead of seeing it as the helpful waypoint it serves (S. Morter, The Energy Codes).
How did we grow from using it, living there, knowing that person? Like a Monopoly board, players aren’t meant to dwell permanently on one square. Monopoly jail is bad, remember?
A telescope can never provide monetary returns equivalent to its cost to build, operate, and maintain it. Therefore, it is an incredibly expensive and precise wishing well, through which we hope to glimpse our future and observe our past.
The Mauna Kea Telescope represents hope and a belief that within the vast galaxy, we are all One.
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay.