Granted, I have only made 5 trips to Hawaiʻi each of two weeks duration, so I’ve only experienced living in Hawaiʻi for a total of ten weeks! And that was as a tourist, although even as a tourist I wasn’t interested in tourist trinkets. Rather, I was intoxicated by the way that spiritual values were interwoven in the culture with the Hawaiian way of living!
It strikes me that Hawaiian culture is a fertile ground for living a spiritual life. But seeing so many western or mainland stores in the islands, I wonder whether there is a danger of modern Hawaiians losing sight of the value of their inheritance, of the value of their ʻohana, of losing those values which make them Hawaiian through the idolization of western goods?
When we dismiss something we do so because we hold something else to be of a greater value. What we dismiss or neglect we do not pass on, and if enough people within a culture do this they give up or give away the very soul of that culture. Such a way of being betrays a lack of a spiritual approach to life and living.
So why wouldn’t young Hawaiians value their inheritance? Or another way to ask this is, “Why might they be blind to its value?” Is it a blindness due to lack of exposure to the ancient ways, or is it that they automatically dismiss all that they have been taught about the ancient ways, convinced that what those who went before valued is irrelevant to modern life since the ancients didn’t know of microwave ovens, computers, and iPads? The presumption of such an approach is that modern “things” trump ancient insights.
I don’t mean to suggest that Hawaiians be a Pacific version of the Amish, spurning everything that came into being after the 1800’s. I am not proposing that to be Hawaiian means going back to grass shacks and loincloths. Is it possible to have running water, mass transit, and televisions and yet to use them in a way which does not conflict with the Hawaiian cosmological comprehension of how everything fits together?
But making it all fit together, for Hawaiians, means not automatically rejecting everything that has constituted Hawaiian life in the preceding centuries. To meld ancient wisdom with modern gadgets requires reflection upon the ancient values, not automatic dismissal of them. Even while driving an electric car, it is that reflection which gives sight to the blind.