Every time we pick up a newspaper or watch the news, the lead story is always about some person-to- person horror with the foundation being centered around race, culture or religion always resulting in bloodshed, mayhem, chaos or oppression.
Seeing this we become fearful and anxious and struggle to remain optimistic and positive. Somehow, in Hawaii, we seem to find a way through this with tolerance, civility and being observant.
Coming to Hawaii in the 70’s, in the laid back town of Lahaina, I was definitely the new kid on the block. I was haole (Caucasian), had long hair and a beard, and stood out like a sore thumb.
Every day I would go to the town tennis court, watch 3 guys playing 2 against 1, and never say a word. After about an hour I would leave. This scenario was repeated for 4 days. On the 5th day the 1 guy said, “You like play”?
My game was good and my vibe was easy. In no time we all became friends. When that happened, I was asked, “Why you say nuting every day”?
I explained that I didn’t want to push myself on anyone and I respected their right to play the way they wanted to.
My feeling was that Hawaii was a “melting pot” of ethnicity and for the most part they were here a lot longer than me.
That’s the reality. For nearly 200 years, people from all over the world have come here to form a community where our differences defined us rather than divided us.
We have no majority race and diversity is readily accepted. This is counter to other parts of the world where things are looked at as majority or minority.
Our cultural philosophy leans away from the more, the better. So, our foods, language, traditions and actions morph into chop suey. But the one thing that has its defining moment is the condition of our heart. No one says they are better, or tries to show anyone up. It’s like we are all family. We walk down the street, look a stranger in the eye, smile and say, “Howzit”? They smile back.
Recently, a program was started here called, Pillars of Peace. The program is designed to bring global peace leaders here to learn of our unique culture and see if it can be replicated worldwide.
The first to come was the Dalai Lama. His intent is to spend quite some time here to learn about why we have what we have and why we take it for granted as the way it is supposed to be.
Does he hold audiences in large churches, auditoriums, or stadiums? No! He visits schools, interacts with the kids and says he wants to use Hawaii as the example to create a society where peace is built on a foundation of aloha.
We are not in the illusion that the aloha spirit will endure without a conscious effort to preserve it as we undertake the same effort to preserve our unique physical environment.
As islanders, we are all linked and dependent upon each other’s actions, so much so that it is impossible to separate the notion of environmental or economic sustainability from the notion of personal and communal interdependence.
Why can’t we all be “pillars of peace”? How hard is it to promote a just and equitable society that meets its challenges head-on with mutual respect for differences in race, color and creed and the grace to find common ground?
If people would see the person as a car with a driver, everything would be simple. The car comes in different sizes, shapes, colors and accessories but it cannot move without the driver. The car is material. The driver is pure spirit.
So, if you look beyond the car and view the driver you will see that all the drivers are spiritual and eternal in nature, all having the same Father. As such we are all related.
When the driver leaves the car, everything is still present on and in the car. So, why can’t it move? Because the driver has gone back home or has found a new car to drive.
Accepting this and devoting ourselves to it opens the door to a bright future devoid of hate, prejudice and animosity. Rather than seeing different colors or religions we see “family”, with each member having their right to choose their own path.
This unique “spirit of aloha” is our contribution to the world and our most precious resource. It’s just too bad the politicians, the pharmaceutical empire, the big food industry, Bayer and Monsanto don’t see it the same way.
As a final note, the literal translation of the word aloha is, “I see the spirit within you”.