The modern world in which we live brings an ever-bewildering abundance of changes, inventions and ways of relating to others. Interestingly though humans seem to need a certain degree of rooted-ness, an “anchor” frequently formed by habitual patterns for necessary chores. Hawaiians must also contend with the influence Mainland culture has on Hawaiian modern-day life! Mainland culture stresses economic prosperity as manifested by a gospel of “more” whereas Hawaiian culture stresses a responsible use of all that has been provided us. While Hawaiians prize kuleana (an individual’s obligations to family and society) Mainlanders defend individual “rights.” Mainland culture stresses geographic and relational mobility whereas Hawaiian culture stresses ʻohana and maintaining familial relationships.
Hawaiʻi’s’ values are so different from the Mainland’s because of Hawaiʻi’s understanding that although we live in the present, were it not for the past and those who went before us there would be no present for us now. On the Mainland many act as if they owe nothing to anyone! One can see this sense of “belonging” in the Hawaiian interests of genealogy, arts and practices from the past such as hula, lei-making, mele chants and more. For Hawaiians relationship is communion, not obligation. I am always amazed to see whole family clans on the beaches set up in interlinked tents for the entire weekend… on any ordinary weekend as well as on holidays! Hawaiians have a genius for making any day together into a holiday, a celebration simply by being ʻohana together!
I suspect that the loneliness so prevalent in modern-day culture is an expression of a sense of being disconnected… from others and from the past. This leaves us unsure as to who we are today. One thing I hope to understand more deeply once I live in Hawaiʻi is the extent to which Hawaiian relationships bloom out of the past and thus create a greater present moment. The first thing I’m going to do when I move to the Big Island in June 2019 is to buy myself a big tent! The second thing I will do is start the barbecue and invite everyone to become my new ʻohana!