Tirkekid (They Are Us)

By Santy Asanuma

How did we get where we are today? Are there individuals (derta el chad) that should be blamed for taking us into hardship that we have in Palau today? Short answer is no. And JT definitely did not bring us here. Palauan people do things in groups and very rare that a lone ranger rise among us. Most Palauan people are what we can label as groupie (ke de chelemongel malechub e ke do siik er a re choieng). I want to be different but I find myself doing it myself at times because it is engrained (ngara chiiused) in our being a Palauan.

Our leadership both traditional and elected is a mirror reflection of us. They have not and will not behave different from this characteristic. It is the nature of things for rabbit fish (Meyas) to follow the behavior of rabbit fish. And this is not necessarily an issue of good or bad quality. But ancient (chad ra irrechar) Palauans had a sense not to follow a group without reason.

“Ng ko ra meyas ra Ngmall” (like the Rabbit fish of Ngmall) as the Palauan proverb goes to say that a school of matured rabbit fish ready to lay their eggs would constantly be hitting themselves on sea floor to induce labor and other meyas which are not mature yet would start to do the same thing by hitting the sea floor. Obviously ancient Palauans did not believe in following what is popular without questioning it.

Before becoming who he is today this is what he said in his book titled The Audacity of Hope, “what struck me was just how modest people’s hopes were…most of them thought that anybody willing to work should find a job that paid a living wage…people should not file for bankruptcy because they got sick…every child should have a genuinely good education…those same children should be able to go to college even if their parents were not rich…they want to be safe, from criminals and terrorists; they want clean air, clean water, and time with their kids. And when they get old, they wanted to retire with some dignity and respect. That was about it. It was not much.” And these are American people that Obama met during his campaign to become a senator about six years ago. In this regard, the Palauan people are not very different from the Americans.

But this is what he said about the people and the leaders, “Americans disagreed: on Iraq, taxes, abortion, guns, the Ten Commandments, gay marriage, immigration, trade, education policy, environmental regulation, the size of government, and the role of the courts. Not only we disagree, but we disagreed vehemently” (meringel). Once again Palauan people in this regard are no different than the Americans.

Here is what he said that I think is more worthy than the rest of the book, “I think much what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured with money alone, that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP.” I hope that he truly meant this and stand firm on it while he is the President of the greatest nation.

Dear President JT you said, “that Palauans are strong-willed people, and that we should be patient (meklou a rengud) and that we should embrace to heart our culture and traditions which binds us together.” This is the best inspiration and assurance you have given to the people so far. Despite popular belief, Palauans do not need a leader in fish, taro, beer, wine, and mechesang but one who will inspire us to pick ourselves up and climb out of the well of misery with our bare hands. That is the Palauan we want to become and not weaklings. And we need a leader of ideas and inspiration more than ever before. Tirkekid (the leaders are from us) is the reason why we have no other recourse but to have faith in the Palauaness in us.

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