Life in Balance

Posted by on Jan 29, 2009 in The Mind of Makaira | 1 comment

Life In BalanceAloha!

It was interesting to read a recent news report in the Fiji Daily Post on a research study proclaiming Fijian women consume more kava than men. This research also made the claim that kava brings overall “laziness to the community.” The article mentioned the research being conducted in two “major yaqona consuming villages,” although it did not name them. Yoqona is what the national kava brew is called in Fiji.

The article was critical of this research and posed the questions: “[How] does one define a ‘major yaqona consuming village’? Does it mean that there are ‘minor yaqona consuming villages’ or ‘moderate villages’ out there? Is the definition of a ‘major yaqona consuming’ village based on kilograms per capita or kilograms per household per night? Or is it based on hours of consumption (irrespective of the strength of the mix) per day, month, year? Is it based on money spent by the village for kava consumption, which include both for ceremonial and social occasions? There needs to be more clarification on these issues regarding the national drink.”

Hear hear! Indeed! The writer took many of my questions that made me suspect of the validity of this research right out of my head and splashed them across the page. Thank you!

My philosophy is this: abuse of any sort is bad. Whether it is the abuse of one’s body with drugs or drink or unleashing physical, mental or emotional abuse on one another; abuse of any kind is not helpful nor healthy for any parties involved; meaning, the abuser is doing himself harm, as well as harming all those around him; those who care about him and innocent bystanders alike.

Kava abuse does have physiological effects. Overindulging in it can result in insomnia, and severe abuse can lead to a skin disease known on the islands as kawaism, a form of dermatitis which causes large, white patches of scaly skin and red, irritated eyes. Kava taken in moderation is a peaceful, much healthier way of unwinding than using, say, alcohol for this purpose. Moderation is key, as in all areas of life.

In the article, the research seemed to focus on the kava use in rural villages. Indigenous rights activists see this as another modern societal tool used to erode indigenous cultures and make them adhere to the arbitrary standards of the Western world.

It is commonly accepted that kava consumption is an integral part of rural village life. Kava is consumed on a daily basis in traditional, social and recreational arenas, as well as employed for ceremonial purposes. Invariably, anti-kava researchers and Christian church leaders focus on the negative impacts of kava consumption in rural areas.

The article went on to make an interesting point: what appears to be missing from this approach is “the consideration of the rural-urban population shift and the rise of newly-arrived Fijian urbanites with the disposable income to maintain the habit of kava consumption. There are now more Fijians living in the towns and cities, than in the villages. The point is that kava consumption is no longer a peculiar Fijian village activity. The increase in the number of kava shops in the urban centres suggests that kava consumption is also part of the urban social landscape.

“Most domestic kava production is in fact geared towards this urban market. Kava is more easily available in urban areas than in villages, where kava stocks are confined to a few home-based sellers and villagers who keep roots received from ceremonial exchanges.

“Furthermore, on the report that more women consume kava than men, we are curious as to whether this finding is conclusive. Have the findings been peer-reviewed and published to warrant public dissemination and consumption? Why is the pre-occupation with women in Fijian villages? What about Fijian and non-Fijian women in our towns and cities who do consume kava? Doesn’t kava consumption in urban communities bring laziness to those communities too?”

All I know is that drinking kava does not make me “lazy.” I am not a person who could ever be considered lazy; I do the work of three people at least, yet I consume kava everyday. Also, every member of my family has been an avid kava kava fan, and we typically live into our late 90’s, and my great, great grandmother lived to be 107 years old. I know I can’t attribute this solely to the consumption of  ” ‘awa”,  but I do believe that with the appreciation for life this wondrous plant brings with it, a certain lifestyle that sees the world in a less stressed kind of way is possible. What better way to live a long life than to reduce one’s stress, and to me, there’s no better way to reduce stress than to sit back with some close friends and/or family, and enjoy a fresh coconut shell full of fresh kava root.

Aloha no,

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One Comment

  1. Your completly right onevery point. But I believe living a life stress has changed me for the better, coming from new york the city thAT NEVER sleeps well i do now. Thanks to you guys there and my new “vice” kava. Actually alchol was my vice untill i stumbled on your site. I’ve stopped drinking alcohol even whil i drank i got more depressed and stressed, now i drink 1-2 shells after work and actually enjoy not fighting with the family ‘awa definatley changed my life for the better and would recommend it to every body who lives in or around New York. Somebody needs to open up a kava bar so every body could just chill tone it down a notch and actually relax.
    Thanks for everything Makaira your the best i’ll be ordering again real soon and i think my towns herba store might want to carry your products, he decided this after i brought a bottle of ‘awa in and we drank a couple of shells and stareted talking about how they can’t keep sun theanine on there shelves. Well he knew there would be a good market for a 3000 year time proven #1 stress reducer and said he’d talk to his partner tonight when i pop up with more ‘awa. Anyway thanks for the new life i’m finding.
    -Thanks Makaira
    -Chris Baessler

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