Testimonial from Reynold
I am writing this as a
charter member of Hawaii's Friends of Morocco, an informal group
that understands why relations between our island state of 1.2
million and the North African Kingdom of 35-40 million is
significant and should our help.
My initial involvement
came as a member of the Community Mentors Committee, chaired by Dr.
Maeona Mendelson, that took a delegation of 14 high-school and
college students from Hawaii to Morocco for the Second World
Congress of Youth in August 2003. One of the other adults, Mr
M Jan Rumi, accompanied his son Fayez, one of the youth delegates.
For a number of reasons Jan was later named Morocco's Honorary
Consul in Hawaii.
Like other of the
adults involved in this project, I came away extremely impressed by
the people, the beautiful country, and the leadership of Morocco.
I have been there three times thus far, most recently this July, and
will be playing a leadership role in an international education
conference (on human-centered education) there, near Fez, this
coming July. I may also get involved in a regional-development
project in the Northeastern part of the country that affects the
indigenous Berber people.
Why I believe this
relationship, between Hawaii and the far-away Kingdom of Morocco, is
so important is Morocco's desire to be mentored by Hawaii, not only
in matters of tourism (it is also Morocco's number-one business in
dollar terms), but also to become the major catalyst for moderation
and Aloha in the Muslim and Arabic Worlds. The Moroccans were
the source of the Andalusian Muslim dynasty in Spain where for
several hundred years at least Jews, Christians, and Muslims were
able to live in peace, harmony, and fruitful collaboration.
Some of the greatest works of architecture, poetry, philosophy,
theology, and music came from that epoch from members of all three
Apparently leaders in
Morocco would like to reclaim that heritage in becoming a, if not
the, major voice for moderate Islam throughout the Muslim world.
And a number of those leaders have come to see our state as a kind
of role model for tolerant, respectful, productive living across all
kinds of differences. I personally (as a Jewish-Catholic) am
excited to see the possibility of our state becoming more than just
one of the world's premier holiday destinations. Beyond our
beautiful geography and incomparable climate, what we may really
have going for us is our social climate, our Aloha spirit.
Perfect, of course, it's not—we're
not. But relative to most of the rest of the world, Hawaii may
just harbor the secret to enable all of us and the Planet to reach
Century 22 intact. That's why I think of Hawaii, potentially
at least, as "the capital of the 21st Century"—the
place that shows the rest of the world that cross-ethnic,
cross-racial, cross-cultural, and cross-religions relations can be
sources of creativity rather than misunderstanding and violence.
If we have our wits about us, we may just begin producing and
exporting the one thing most needful in the world right now—the
So, that's why I am
buzzed about the developing relationship between us and Morocco, led
by Jan, Mae, and others. Also, I see where we might train
selected government, NGO, educational, and commercial (especially
tourism) leaders of Morocco here in English (their second language
is French), our way of doing things (including enterprise), the ways
of democracy, volunteerism, and—yes—Aloha.
The other side of the coin is, we can begin to import the wonderful
leather goods, ceramics, carved wood, clothing, spices, and foods of
that world of 1001 Nights and begin, through exchanges, to develop a
generation of our youth who can speak French and Arabic, have lived
and worked (or volunteered) in Morocco, and who know and have regard
for Islam, the Qu'ran, and some fellow human beings who happen to be
I'll end there, but I
hope you get a sense of how profoundly important successful,
mutually fruitful relations between our former kingdom and Morocco's
current one might be and how, if we play our cards right, Hawaii can
become a kind of Switzerland of the Pacific—a
place whose catalytic importance in world affairs far outweighs its
small size or
physical beauty. That is, Hawaii like Switzerland could be a
headquarters for brokering agreements based on international
understanding and common humanity despite differences of
nationality, religion, ethnicity, race, etc.
So, my friend, I hope
this writing will help you put into context why this developing set
of relations, though small potatoes now, could become one of
tomorrow's biggest stories and that you will be motivated to come in
before it all happens and in a way help midwife it into existence.
That would be awesome all around.
Reynold Feldman, PhD
MEDICORPS & WISDOM FACTORS INTERNATIONAL