Tag Archives: Hawaii

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Hawaiian Respect & Harmony

Approximately 1,500 years ago, the Hawaiian Islands were discovered by Polynesian colonists who sailed double-hulled canoes on voyages from various parts of the South Pacific. Hawaiian legend says that the demigod Maui pulled the islands up from the ocean depths with his magic hook, and caught the sun with his net from atop Haleakala mountain, in order to slow it down and lengthen the day.

Living in Harmony with the Land & Each Other

Early Hawaiians believed that the earth was a living being with its own consciousness. They never tried to dominate the land, but believed in respecting and living in harmony with it. In Hawaiian language, this is called “pono”, or being in harmony with ones SELF and the ENVIRONMENT, for they are all elements of one energy.

By the time Captain Cook arrived in 1778, several hundred thousand Polynesian people who were skilled farmers, fishermen and craftsmen had established themselves on the islands. In Hawaiian culture, successful cohabitation with the land depended on several principles. These involved cooperation and a sense of community among the people who worked the land. Caring for the land (malama aina) was accomplished through working together (lokahi) and using many hands (laulima).

The Importance of Community

This strong sense of community was reflected in the formation of extended families (family is “ohana”), and the building of gathering places (long house is “halau”). Heiau (temples) were built, and the “spirit realm” was honored and respected during all phases of planting and harvesting, as well as in other aspects of Hawaiian life.

There is an inherent love of and reverence for the land in Hawaii. This is still maintained by many of its inhabitants even in these modern times, including by the haoles (non-native Hawaiians). Being greeted with love (aloha) and invited into a home to eat (Aloha, e ai kakou) is still a very strong tradition and a mark of good manners in the Hawaiian Islands.

Looking to the Future

Is it possible that we might more widely incorporate cooperation and respect for the Earth (and each other) into our modern societies? If so, perhaps our world could become a more expansive and fulfilling place to exist.

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Photos courtesy Troy Squillaci and Matthew DeVries, Pexels

Hawaiian Respect & Harmony © 2017, 2020

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Hawaiians & the Sacred Aloha

Hawaii is one of the major tourist spots in the world, and if you spend all of your time in Honolulu and Waikiki, a tourist experience is exactly what you will have. However, when I ventured outside of the blatantly tourist areas, Hawaii began to really show herself to me. I discovered islands of breathtaking tropical beauty, a slower speed of living, a quiet grace, and inevitably I found the spirit of “aloha”.

It’s not just a word, but a way of living

Aloha. From the native Hawaiian language, this word is rooted in “alo”, meaning presence or face, and “ha”, meaning breath. Aloha is most commonly used for both hello and goodbye, however, this word runs much deeper than these superficial meanings. In the Hawaiian culture, words have “mana” (pronounced: mah’nah, meaning spiritual or divine power), and aloha is among the most sacred. Aloha is a greeting of love when expressed with sincerity.

Aloha is embraced by Hawaiians and haoles alike. (Haole is the Hawaiian term for anyone not native Hawaiian or Polynesian.) The culture as a collective practices the spirit of aloha in daily life and human interaction. The essence of Hawaii has this subtle way of pulling one back to the basics of life – the beauty of nature, and what is important between human beings.

Your words have great power

Aloha. This one word typifies the power of our language, and how we affect other people with it. Words are potent, therefore it behooves us to choose and use them wisely. In this muddled up, confused and too-often-angry world, sometimes we feel powerless to change it in any significant, positive way. However our words, over which we have sole control and responsibility, are one way we can do that.

Aloha. Change the world.

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Hawaiians & the Sacred Aloha © Susan L Hart

Photo courtesy Pixabay, Pexels