THE GREAT SPIRIT IS STRONGER THAN MACHINES
The Papalagi make a lot of things that we cannot make, nor will ever be able to make, things we don't understand and that mean not a thing to our heads, just heavy stones. Things also, we don't want to possess at all but are still admired by the weak ones amongst us, giving them misplaced feelings of inferiority. That's why we want to have an open discussion on the amazing tricks of the Papalagi.
The Papalagi have the talent to change everything into their spear or their club. They take the wild lightning, the hot fire and the swift waters and make them subject to their will. They lock them up and give them orders. And they obey them. They become strong warriors for them. The Papalagi are capable of making the wild lightning even faster and lighter, the hot fire even hotter and the swift water even swifter than it was already.
The Papalagi really seem to be "The Breakers of the Heavens" (1), the messengers of the Gods, because of their mastery over earth and sky.
(1) Papalagi means white man, stranger, literally it means, "Breaker of the Heavens" The first white missionary landing on Samoa came in a sailing vessel. When the natives saw it approach, they thought it was a crack in the sky through which-the white man came to them. He broke the heavens. In the mythology of the Maoris of New Zealand, the Papalagi are the whiteskinned ones who came down from the heavens in shining, white vehicles.
The Papalagi is like a fish, a bird, a worm and a horse, at the same time. He drills into the ground, through the soil and he digs tunnels under the widest freshwater streams. He crawls through mountains and rocks, he ties iron wheels to his feet and speeds off, faster than the fastest horse. He takes off into the air, he can fly! I've seen him glide through the air like a seagull. He has a big canoe for on top of the water and also one for under the water. He sails his canoe from cloud to cloud.
Beloved brothers! The words I speak are the truth and you must believe your servant, even when your common sense makes you doubt everything I just said. For the Papalagi's things are very big and impressive and I'm afraid many among us will be shaken by so much power. And where to start, when I would have to tell you everything that my astonished eyes have taken in!
You all know the big canoe that is called a steamer by the white man. Doesn't it just look like a gigantic fish? How is it possible for it to make the crossing from one island to another faster than our strongest young men can row across? Have you ever seen its large tail fin, when it sailed away? It moves the same way the tail of a fish in the lagoon moves. And that fin propels the canoe. How that can be, is the Papalagi's big secret. The secret rests in the belly of the big fish. In there sits the machine that feeds the power to the fin. And in the machine that big power is hidden. My head is not strong enough to explain to you what a machine is: The only thing I know is, that it eats black stones and gives power for it in exchange, a power so big as to be impossible for a man to have.
The machine is the heaviest club the white man has. Feed it the heaviest ifi tree from the forest and the machine will smash it to pieces, like a woman smashing taro for her children to eat. The machine is the greatest magician of Europe. Its hand is strong and never tires. If so motivated, it can cut out hundred canoes, no a thousand canoes a day. I've seen it weave loincloths, so fine and delicate as if woven by the graceful hands of a maiden. It was weaving from morning till night, spitting out loincloths, a whole pile of them! Our strength is worth nothing compared to the might of the machine.
The Papalagi are magicians. Sing a song for them and they will catch it and even send it back to you, any time you want. They put a piece of glass in front of you and catch your image on it. And thousands of times your counterfeit image can be taken from it, as many as you like.
I've seen even greater miracles. I told you that the Papalagi catch the lightning from the sky, that is the truth. They catch it, then the machine has to eat it and spits it out again at night, in the form of thousands of small stars, glow-worms and small moons. It would be a small thing for the Papalagi to bathe our island in light at night time, so it wouldn't be much darker than during the day. Also, they often send out these light-flashes in their service, they tell them where to go and have them carry messages to their brothers abroad. And those flashes of lightning obey and carry the message.
The Papalagi has made all his limbs stronger. His hands stretch to the far shore of the sea and to the stars, and his feet overtake the wind and the waves. His ears hear every whisper in Savii and his voice has wings like a bird. His eyes even see in the dark He looks through himself as if his flesh is transparent like water, able to see every speck on the bottom.
All the things I have witnessed and of which I'm telling you now, are only a small part of all the things my eyes have beheld. And let me tell you that the whites take pride in working stronger and newer miracles all the time and scores of them stay up all night to wonder about more ways to cheat God. Because that happens, they want to defeat the Great Spirit and take possession of his powers for themselves. The Papalagi challenge God. But God still is stronger than the strongest Papalagi, his cleverest machine included and God is still the one who decides who dies, and when. The sun, the water and the fire still obey God first. And the white man didn't succeed yet in regulating the rise of the moon or the direction of the wind.
That's why those miracles are not that important. And, my beloved brothers, those island dwellers that let themselves be dazzled by the white man's miracles and those that pray to the whites because of their doings and those that call themselves poor and unworthy because their minds and hands are unable to make things like them, those I call weaklings. The skills and wonders of the Papalagi may provoke much admiration in our eyes, but when you see them in the bright daylight, they don't mean more than weaving a mat or cutting out a club; all our labor is like children's play in the sand. Because nothing that the white man has made can stand the comparison with the work of the Great Spirit.
The huts of the high alii are marvelous and beautifully ornamented; they are called palaces. The tall huts that are erected in God's name are even more splendid and standing taller than the mountain Tofua (1). But still they are crude and sloppy and lack the warm lifeblood, when you compare them with a hibiscus flower with its flaming red petals; or compare them with the crown of a palmtree or the coral reef, that drunken jungle of color and form. The Papalagi never succeeded in weaving his textiles as delicately as God makes every spider weave his web and there is no machine as complicated as the tiny sand-ant that lives in our huts.
(1) A high mountain on the island Upolu.
I told you that the Papalagi fly to the clouds like birds. But the gulls still fly higher and faster than man and they can also fly in a storm and they have wings growing out of their bodies, while the wings of the Papalagi are merely artificial and they break off and fall easily.
So, all his miracles have a weak spot somewhere and there isn't a single machine in existence that needs no caretaker or driver. And they all carry a hidden curse inside of them. A machine may make all sorts of things with its strong hands, but during its labor it eats out all the love that is present in the things we make with our hands. What do I care for a canoe that is cut out for me by a machine, a cold lifeless machine that is unable to talk about its product, that doesn't smile when the product is finished and can not take its product to his father or mother to have it admired. Would I be able to love my tanoa like I love her now, when a machine could make me another any moment, without my intervention? That's the big curse of the machine; the Papalagi love nothing anymore, because the machine can make them a new one anytime. They have to feed it their own life's blood in order to receive its heartless miracles.
The Great Spirit wants to spread around and diffuse the powers of heaven and earth himself, to his discretion. No human has the right to do that. Not without punishment can a man expect to change himself into a fish or a bird, into a horse or a worm. His gains are much smaller than he dares confess to himself. When I drive through a village I make good pace, but when I walk I can see everything better and my friends invite me into their huts. Reaching your destination quickly is rarely a real benefit. The Papalagi always want to reach the destination of their travels quickly. Most of their machines have no other purpose than rapid transportation of people. But when they come to the end of their trek they immediately want to go on another one. That way the Papalagi run restlessly through life, more and more losing the ability to walk and run, never catching up with their destinies; destiny that comes to us without us going looking for it.
Therefore I tell you that the machine is not more than a nice toy in the hands of the big white children and their tricks must not scare us. The Papalagi have never invented
a machine yet that protected them from death. Never did they make or do anything that's more powerful than the things God makes or does, every hour. No machine or magic ever lengthened a human life, or made it happier and more joyful. So let us stick to the works and wonders of God and let us despise the white man, who wants to play God himself.
8. The Great Spirit Is Stronger Than Machines