THE PAPALAGI MADE GOD POOR
The Papalagi have a strangely confused way of thinking. They always rack their brains, to extract more profits or rights from things. And their consideration is not for humanity, but for one single person only. And that single person is themselves.
When somebody says: "My head belongs to me and to nobody but me", he is very right and nobody can speak up against it. Up to this point, the Papalagi and me share our views. But when he continues: "That palmtree is mine", only because that tree happens to grow in front of his hut, then he behaves as if he made the palmtree grow himself. But that palmtree belongs to nobody. To nobody! It is God's hand, reaching out to us from the soil. God has many hands. Every tree, every blade of grass, the sea, the sky and the clouds that float by, they are all God's hands. We may use them for our pleasure, but we may never say: "God's hand is my hand". But that is what the Papalagi do now.
In our language `lau' means `mine', but it also means `yours'. It's almost the same thing. But in the language, of the Papalagi, it is hard to find two words that differ so much in meaning as `mine' and `yours'. Mine, means that something belongs entirely to me. Yours, means belonging entirely to somebody else. That's why the Papalagi calls everything that stands close to his house, `mine'. Nobody is entitled to it but him. When you visit a Papalagi and see something there, a tree or a fruit, wood or water or a pile of dirt, there is always someone around to say: "It's mine, and don't let me catch you taking anyfrom my property!" When you still touch something, he will start screaming and call you a thief! That is the worst curse he knows. And only because you dared to touch the other man's his. His friend and the servants of the chief will come running, they will put you in chains and throw you in the gloomiest pfui-pfui and people will despise you for the rest of your life.
Now to avoid people touching things that somebody else declared his, a law is set up to declare what is his and what is mine. And there are people in Europe that spend their whole life paying attention that the law isn't broken, that nothing will be taken away from the Papalagi what he has declared to be his. In that manner, the Papalagi want to make the impression that they have a real right to those things, as if God has given his things away for always. As if the palmtrees, the flowers, the trees, the sea, the air and the clouds are really his property.
The Palapagi are in need of laws guarding their mine, because otherwise, the people with little or no mine at all would take it away from them. Because if there are people that claim a lot for themselves, there are always a lot of others left standing emptyhanded. Not everybody knows the tricks and hidden signs by which you can gather a lot of mine and also a kind of courage is needed, that has little or nothing to do with what we call honor. And it may very well be possible, that those Papalagi who stand with empty hands, because they didn't want to rob and insult God, are the best of their tribe. But many Papalagi like that do not exist.
Most of them rob God without even a trace of shame. They don't know any better. They are not aware of any wrongdoing, everybody does it and nobody sees any harm done or feels bad about it. Many also receive their pile of mine by birth, from their fathers. And God has almost nothing left, because the people have taken it and transformed it into mine and yours. His sun, intended for all of us, cannot be divided evenly anymore, because one demands more than the other. In the nice open spaces where the sun shines in all its splendor, only a few people are sitting, while a whole crowd of others try to catch a pale ray of light sitting in the shadows. God cannot rejoice with all his heart, because he isn't the alii sili (1) in his own house anymore. The Papalagi deny him by saying that everything is theirs. But to that insight they never come, no matter how hard they think.
On the contrary, they consider their deeds fair and honest. But in God's eyes, they are unfair and dishonest.
When they would make use of their common sense, they would certainly understand that nothing we cannot hold, belongs to us and that, when the going gets rough we cannot hold on to anything. Then also he would start realizing that God made his house so big, because he wanted there to be place for everybody and happiness also. And it certainly would be big enough for everybody, so they could all find a sunny spot, a small share of happiness, a few palmtrees and certainly a spot for his two feet to stand on, just as God wanted and desired it to be. How could God ever forget one of his own children?
But still, there are many feverishly looking for that tiny, little spot that God has reserved for them.
Because the Papalagi don't want to listen to God's word and start making laws of their own, God sends them many things that threaten their property. He sends heat and rain to destroy his mine, it ages, crumbles, and rots away. God gives storm and fire power over their mine also. And worst of all he introduces fear in the hearts of the Papalagi. Fear is the main thing he has acquired. A Papalagi's sleep is never quiet, because he has to be on the alert all the time, so the things he has amassed in the daytime are not stolen from him during the night. His hands and senses have to be busy holding on to his property, all the time.
And all through the day, his mine pesters him and laughs in his face, shouts at him because it is stolen from God, it tortures him and gives him a lot of misery.
But God inflicted a heavier punishment than fear on the Papalagi. He gave them the struggle between those that have little or nothing at all, and those that have a lot. That struggle is hot and violent and rages day and night. It is a struggle that everybody suffers from and is chewing up the joy of living. Those that have a lot should give some of it away, but they don't want to. The have-nots also want their share, but they get nothing. Seldom also they are warriors of God. They consist mainly of people that came too late when the loot was being divided, or of those that were too clumsy or didn't have the opportunity to grab something. That they are robbing God, enters nobody's mind. And only rarely does an old, wise man stand up, and urges people to put everything back into God's hands.
Brothers! What is your opinion of a man who has a big house, big enough to lodge an entire Samoan-village, and who doesn't permit a traveller to spend the night under his roof? What do you think of a man who holds an entire bunch of bananas in his hands and who is unwilling to give even a single fruit to the starving man who pleads for it. I can see the anger flaring up in your eyes and the contempt coming to your lips. Know then, that the Papalagi act this way every hour, every day. Even if he has a hundred mats, he won't give away a single one to his brother who has none. No, he even blames his brother for having none. Even if his but is stuffed to the roof with food, so much that he and his aiga cannot eat it in years, he will not even go look for his brothers who have nothing to eat and look pale and hungry. And there are many pale and hungry Papalagi.
The palmtree, upon ripening, sheds leaves and fruit. The Papalagi live like palmtrees that hold on to their fruit and leaves and say: "They are mine". People are not allowed to eat anything from it! How could a tree like that ever bear new fruit? The palm trees are wiser than the Papalagi.
Amongst us also there are those that have more than others and we honor the chief, who has many mats and pigs. But that honor only applies to his person and not to his mats and pigs, because we gave those to him ourselves, to show our happiness and to honor his great wisdom and courage. But the Papalagi honor their brothers, because of their many pigs and mats and their wisdom is never considered. A Papalagi without pigs or mats is seldom or never honored.
As the pigs and mats do not walk to the poor and needy all by themselves, the Papalagi see no reason why they should bring them to their brothers themselves. Because for his brother he has no respect, only for mats and pigs and those he would rather keep to himself. When he would love and honor his brother, and not live in conflict about the mine and yours, then he would bring him mats so as to share and enjoy his big mine together. Then he would share his own mat, instead of chasing him out into the dark night.
But the Papalagi don't realize that God has given us palmtrees, bananas and our precious taro, the birds in the forest and all the fish in the sea, for everybody's enjoyment and happiness. And not only for a few, while the rest can suffer hardships and need. Those that are blessed by God with full hands, should share with their brothers, otherwise the fruits in their hands will rot away. Because God extends his multitude of hands to everybody, he doesn't want one to have much more than the other, or somebody saying: "I'm standing in the sunshine and you must stand in the shadow". We all belong in the sunshine.
When God keeps everything in his just hands, there are no struggles and there is no need. Now the smart Papalagi want to make us believe that nothing belongs to God! Whatever you can grab with your hands belongs to you! But let's close our ears for such foolish talk and stick to common sense: everything belongs to God.
Note: Everybody familiar with the fact that the Samoans live in a total shared-property society, will understand Tuiavii's contempt for our laws on property, the concept of 'mine and thine' is simply unknown to them. During all my travels, the natives have always shared their hut, mat and food and everything with me, without even a second thought. The first words of greeting spoken by a village chief would be often: "Everything that's mine, belongs to you". The concept of 'theft' also was unknown to the islanders. Everything belongs to everybody. And everything belongs to God.
7. The Papalagi Made God Poor