Outside Looking In

First of all, here are some excerpts of letters in the Samoa Observer recently vilifying those of us outside Samoa.

“...we have our own media in Samoa that can look into the tsunami Fund report and interpret for themselves and report on their findings if the funds were handled transparently and accounted for!”
“And by the way, what is it with these supposed Samoans living abroad being ashamed and bad mouthing our Government?”
“What in the world do you know about what we literally go through as people living in Samoa? You only think you know from what you read and hear.  Try coming over, work here, school here, live here, breathe and eat here, before you talk about here.”
“...but at least Samoa is in the hands of Samoans, run by Samoans, and being in charged [sic] by Samoans.”

Here’s my response - printed November 20, 2010.
Dear Editor,

One needs to “live [in], breathe and eat Samoa” in order to know and/or understand Samoa is a flagrant misconception.

Here’s a lesson on perspective - literal and figurative. Imagine yourself immersed in the middle of a large corn field, or in a ma’umaga with wide laukalo well above your head. You can only see your immediate spot and location; your perspective is quite limited.

Likewise that’s how you feel sometimes living inside Samoa - or any other place for that matter. You have some advantages being in that place, but there are drawbacks as well. While in that place, you can develop and acquire a tunnel vision perspective.

You can even develop an insular and territorial complex as well, even to the point of detesting other Samoans outside Samoa - as in your letters. Moreover, you can become self-censored because of any ties, affiliations and other relationships at home. Therefore, you run with the crowd, so to speak, wherever it takes you and you become passively supportive of the status quo.

Now, in contrast, imagine someone in a helicopter - representing an outside perspective - hovering above the ma’umaga. He has a better view and perspective of your situation, your whereabouts and even an easy way out of the thicket.  The one in the helicopter also has a better view of any imminent danger, like a large ferocious wild boar with curled tusks coming towards you.

Similarly, some of us, outside Samoa, are able to see your situation from a far (pun intended) better standpoint. Hence, do not discount other perspectives and viewpoints albeit critical and countervailing.

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of people in Samoa who share with some of us “outsiders” the same and/or similar opinions about the government. In fact they may be a lot more disgruntled, disaffected, dissatisfied and embarrassed with the present government than some of us expatriates.

Those disgruntled ones at home even write to this paper voicing their concerns, dissatisfaction and grievances. Except for a few “brave” ones who disclose their names, most do not apparently for fear of repercussions, retribution and retaliation.

I’m sure you’re withholding your names too for similar reasons, especially that there are people at home - possibly family members, co-workers or other acquaintances - that disagree with your arrant support for the government. You see, we can detect that from outside - hovering and looking in.

Of course Samoa has its own media that can look into the tsunami report, but how fair and transparent will that be if it’s government controlled - or affiliated - media? Moreover, the outside media has every right to file a report of their own especially because the funds are from those countries. They want to know if the money is spent effectively and appropriately. Why would the PM become very upset with the scrutiny if everything is in order and meticulously documented?

And of course Samoa is in the hands of Samoans, as claimed, which is wonderful and fantastic.
However, the truth is that some would rather be ruled by a non-Samoan who cares deeply about Samoans than by a Samoan who is indifferent to and condescending of his own people; and definitely not by a Samoan who regards other Samoans - and others - as idiots.

I le ma lenei, se oute mautinoa lava e toatele ma anoanoa’i nisi o i matou o loo aumau i atunuu i fafo, ae sili atu lo matou iloa o Samoa - i soo se itu lava, e aofia ai le gagana, tu ma agaifanua atoa ma le tulaga o loo iai le malo - nai i lo nisi o loo alaala ma nopia’i i Samoa.

O lea, e le talafeagai ma e le agatonu ni tuua’iga ma faasea e faapea e matou te le o malamalama i tulaga o iai Samoa. E pei ona faatomua atu, e le faapea a e nofo i Samoa ona faato’a iloa lea ma malamalama i le tulaga o iai Samoa.

Lastly, faamolemole we “outsiders” don’t just “read and hear” anymore, we also now “see” - timely, if not in ‘real time’ - what’s happening at home through modern technology. In fact most of us outside Samoa have seen the notorious TV3 video clip a hundred times while some - if not the majority- in Samoa may not have seen it at all.

O lea, amana’ia ane se manatu, e tusa lava fo’i pe e pei o le timu e pa’u i le tua o le pato, ia ae o le mea sili o lo’o velo se ‘aso.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~ Aristotle.
(“O se faailoga o se mafaufau a’oa’oina le mafai ona faia o ni fetalaa’iga e tusa lava pe le taliaina ma talitonuina.”)

LV  Letalu

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