nurturing thursdays: “aloha”…for all

Awaiting our departure from Hawaii where we’d been vacationing the last couple of weeks, I browsed throughout an airport shop  filled with souvenir trinkets and the like. Among the several things I scooped up was The Book of Aloha – A Collection of Hawaiian Proverbs & Inspirational Wisdom. I thought my daughter would enjoy reading what others interpreted aloha to mean. Among them was the following:

Hawaiians were “hospitable, kindly, giving a welcome to strangers, affectionate, generous givers, who always invited strangers to sleep at the house and gave them food and fish without pay, and clothing for those who had little; a people ashamed to trade”

Visiting Hawaii, the home of my ancestors, went a long way in replenishing my aloha. Whether with family members or complete strangers, I found it easy to fall back into the island routine of sharing bear hugs and broad smiles. Telling one another “I love you” was as comfortable as saying “Hello. How are you?”

The tropical climate might have something to do with Hawaiian hospitality. After all, it’s easier to be pleasant when the sun is shining and the breezy trade winds help maintain 80 degree temperatures. By comparison a recent article in the local paper where we reside here in Washington, spoke of the “Seattle-freeze.” Could it be that the rainy, gray weather makes Seattle-ites less hospitable toward others?

While it’s true that year-round, warm weather might influence the mood of the natives, it’s more likely that Hawaiian aloha is culturally derived.

Hawaii’s first monarch, King Kamehameha, allowed his people to harvest what was necessary for their daily needs from the land and the sea. Thus the natives were without material want, for all was provided them. And without an end in sight, they could always benefit from the fruits of their own labor. Why then would they not readily share their bounty?

While there is no monarchy providing for Hawaii’s population today, islanders continue the tradition of sharing whatever they have. It is the legacy handed down from one generation to the next. Newcomers to the islands are also inclined to adopt Hawaiian hospitality, practicing it as freely as if born to it. 

Many Hawaiians have migrated to the mainland United States, seeking higher education and/or better paying jobs. With them they bring the spirit of aloha. It’s very likely then that there are pockets of Hawaiian hospitality scattered throughout the country. And it’s just as likely that these fellow islanders will agree that when we return to the land of our birth, we are always infused with an abundance of our ancestral aloha.

Makana, age 7, says it best in The Book of Aloha,

Aloha is when there is a room with a million strangers and then they say “aloha,” and then they are not strangers anymore.

We can all partake of aloha, regardless of where we were born and where our life’s journey has taken us. Perhaps if we all practiced a little aloha towards one another, world peace might be attained. After all the land, the sea and all their bounty were loaned us to fulfill our daily needs. Rather than hoard them for ourselves why not share them freely with others, for the happiness and greater good of all?

…a valuable lesson…from a speck of land in a big ocean…hawai’i…

………hugmamma.

 Visit http://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/nurturing-thurs-my-favorite/ for more inspirational writings by several regular contributors to Nurturing Thursdays.

“aloha,” the meaning

I don’t claim to speak for all Hawaiians, only myself and perhaps a handful of others I know who may share my sentiments. The uproar over a mosque being built near Ground Zero seems to be growing the ever-widening gap among people, in our country and abroad, but particularly here in America. Republicans and Democrats have always been on sparring terms, but added to the mix now are the “Tea-Party” supporters with Sarah Palin seemingly at the helm. An uneasy coexistence among us began when the streamers and champagne glasses were tossed out, after President Obama’s inaugural. Did civility and tolerance get thrown in the trash as well?

Wanting and needing to live a healthy life going forward, for my sake and that of my husband’s and daughter’s, it’s been essential that I adopt a more compassionate, positive outlook toward myself, and others. Diseases, like Alzheimer’s breed on negativity. I’m certain, as survivors of cancer would agree, that dwelling upon the bad aspects of the disease doesn’t help in the fight against and may, in fact, promote its spread. So why would we want to encourage more vitriol amongst ourselves, families, friends, neighbors,co-workers,communities and fellow-worshippers of the same Being whom we all believe as benevolent? Might we not share that same benevolence with our fellow-men and women?

Opponents of both views  in the brouhaha over mosques being built on U.S. soil seem unwilling to share the land, let alone compassion ( “a feeling of sympathy for another’s misfortune” according to Webster) towards one another. Yesterday’s Journal cited several ongoing conflicts around the country. In Temecula, California “Local officials will consider in November plans by the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley for a 25,000-square-foot mosque.” Pastor William Rench of Calvary Baptist Church, potentially neighboring the proposed mosque, is concerned about extremist sentiments expressed by one American Islamic leader.  The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, plans to build a new mosque and school. Darrel Whaley “A local pastor at Kingdom Ministries Worship Center…has spoken at county meetings against plans for the mosque and recreational facilities.” Meanwhile plans have been approved to build a mosque in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. President of the Islamic Society of Sheboygan, Imam Mohammad Hamad says “The issue here is not the issue of a religious building, it is an issue of the Constitution.” A supporter Reverend Gregory S. Whelton, pastor at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Sheboygan felt President Obama’s controversial remarks “articulated the same issues of religious tolerance that were at stake here.”

Since Lincoln’s stand against racial prejudice, which cost too much in the loss of human lives, our country has struggled to rid itself of the taint of human degradation, slavery. But it seems to be our lot on earth never to achieve equality for we always keep our hearts and minds closed to others, who are unlike ourselves. Perhaps we fear they will take what we have, leaving us nothing. 

I struggle too, I’m not above the fray. But for the sake of our children and their children, it’s my sincerest hope that we continue fighting for equality of ideas, beliefs, cultures. Politics, it seems, carries the day suffocating our values, our humanity.

Tourists and others comment on the “Aloha spirit” among Hawaiians. It is spoken of as a beneficent state of mind. For the most part, it is. Native Hawaiians under the rule of King Kamehameha wanted for nothing. He owned the land, and the people were granted its use for their daily needs. I think because of this, Hawaiians are not hoarders by nature. Unfortunately this inherent openness toward sharing the wealth and beauty of the islands has enabled others to historically take whatever they wanted, leaving the natives very little to share of their inheritance.

Despite their own dilemma most Hawaiians continue to welcome visitors to their Paradise, the thought being we all need one another to survive. So they continue to share the thunderous waterfalls, the white sand beaches, the warm waters of the blue Pacific, the green canopies of local foliage, the migrating humpbacks and other wildlife that still abounds, the hula dancers telling stories with their hands, their eyes, and melodic voices rising on soft breezes evoking reminiscences of Hawaii’s past, wonderment at Hawaii’s present, and promises of Hawaii’s future.

Hawaiians are not exempt from the trials and tribulations of others, they  would just prefer that everyone get along. There’s an old saying my mom use to pass along when some wrong was righted “No mo pilikea.” We knew then there would be “no more trouble,” “no more worries.”

that’s what I wish for us all…hugmamma.