The Thirty Meter Telescope’s construction is causing uproar in Hawaii.
The site, Mauna Kea, is not only a dormant volcano attracting thousands of tourists a year but also a religious sanctuary.
Ancient mythology sanctifies Mauna Kea as the meeting place between the Sky Father and Earth Mother.
Ignore the issues of law, conservation and science, for if there is one thing we are all experts on, it is on humanity.
To one party, the importance of our landscape takes holistic precedence and, for the other, our manipulation and pursuit of knowledge overcome feelings and mysticism. These two positions are as contradictory as Mauna Kea’s snowcapped summits and lower indigenous forests.
Yet there exists area to compromise. We must genuinely assess how we relate to nature. This is the anthropological Interface, the telescope lens where human endeavor and cosmic understanding intersect, adding meaning to both.
Both parties agree on this mountain’s importance. For one, it gives meaning as a spiritual domain and, to the other, the opportune observation space connects us to our universe, just as the Earth Mother meets the Sky Father.
Campaigns such as “We are Mauna Kea” and unsympathetic responses from pragmatists do nothing to aid in this discourse. This debate is indivisible from our very existence and, in viewing with such partisanship, we remain in the ideological valley, acting not on bettering ourselves but wandering aimlessly, to whichever side sounds loudest.