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Respecting the Roots

Kava, although around for thousands of years in the Pacific Islands is fairly new to North America and Europe. I believe its important to reflect on the true historical perspective of Kava in the places in which it is actually grown. In doing so we can reflect on its traditional place within community and culture. Kava has always had a place of importance in the Pacific Islands,and until the influence of Missonaries and colonialism it existed throughout the islands of the pacific. In some places it was banned by the invaders and on other islands encouraged. In the places where it was encouraged many saw Kava as a preferable alternative to the disruptive qualities of Alcohol. A recent example of this was when Vanuatu gained its independence from its colonial powers in 1980. The consumption of beer had gained popularity and alcohol related crime was a growing problem in the capital of Port Vila. The government of Vanuatu recognized that its people had lost sight of their traditional core values when alcohol was consumed, it was a escalating issue. The answer was to increase the taxes on alcohol to make it less affordable to the the average Ni-Van. The natural alternative for locals was of course to turn to traditional ways to unwind. This being Kava due to its easy accessibility and low cost. Before long crime rates plummeted and Kava bars (Nakamals) popped up in many towns and villages. Kava harmonized and refocused the population. Rather than distracting people from life, it added perspective and clarity. It rebuilt the broken bonds that Alcohol had smashed and brought about stability and reconciliation. Kava connected people to what their ancestors had realized 2500 years before when Kava was first domesticated. To this day the Vanuatu government body share a shell of Kava before meetings. There is even a Kava Bar across from the Parliament buildings where you will often see politicians sharing a shell or two. Although Kava in North America and Europe is not steeped in cultural traditions, there are lessons we can learn from Vanuatu. We tend to promote Kava as an Alcohol alternative here. People who are new to Kava often expect this. But Kava demands a different perspective. It is neither party drug nor a commodity to be taken advantage of. The lessons and selective breeding of the Noble Kava plant have for centuries in the Pacific islands been bred into the roots. These lessons teach us the values of peace, contemplation, relaxation, openness and understanding. Paulie Paul Goodwin Copyright

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