Western culture stresses independence. What we take away from that is the assumption that no one can tell me what to do, that my life and my choices belong solely to me, and that my family has no part to play in what I want to do. Meaning: I have no obligations to others. Really? Did you give birth to yourself? Did you raise yourself and protect yourself as a baby?
No matter what western culture might say, ʻohana means that we belong to others and not just to ourselves. A basic tenet in Christ’s teaching is that while we may sin alone, we are saved within the community and the family. That feels very Hawaiian to me.
On October 5th, 2010, Dan and I arranged for a special birthday dinner for Mom’s 85th. We’d told her that we would be having a really nice dinner, and before the trip she went out and bought a beautiful new outfit to wear. That evening we sat right on the edge of the beach, having been given a special table by the manager. The three of us ordered our meals and while waiting we placed a small gray box on the table in front of Mom. When she opened it she discovered a ring with five diamonds, one for each of us kids, totaling three-quarters of a carat.
Five diamonds held together by one band. Five of us kids held together within one ʻohana… by Mom.