The overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy was truly a tragedy for the Hawaiian people and yet they have managed to still be a happy people beyond that time of trouble. They still live by and manifest the life-generating generosity of Aloha. Why is it that this single event did not cause the Hawaiian people to stop being Hawaiian? The answer is because there is a value central to the Hawaiian understanding about life. It is about living in harmony with one another, with nature and with the Divine. This orientation is a manifestation of a healthy humility.
Each day can be either a blessing or a curse depending upon how we interact with it… which is of course dependant upon how aware we are of our inner life. Do we basically fear life or do we generally embrace life? I once had someone come for counseling who justified his generalized fearfulness by saying, “But anything can happen!” Which caused me to point out, “But that means that good things can also happen!” What does it say about us if we are more eager to believe in a God who punishes us than to believe in a God who doesn’t judge our mistakes? The way in which we approach the Divine and Life has to do with this issue of fear. Are you being possessed by it or being free of it?
Yes there are things to be fearful about. Suffering is simply a part of life. Part of the pain of suffering is that it causes us to be aware of our vulnerability which can give rise to fear. But if we choose to make fear our God then we will find grounds for it everywhere… fear of making mistakes, fear of disapproval, fear of failing… fear, fear, fear. What we focus on becomes who we are. Humility offers us another option to fear. Part of our knee-jerk reaction to this issue of “humility” arises from our non-Hawaiian insistence that we do not have to comply with anything. In that case go right ahead and jump off a cliff and see if you don’t have to fall down and kill yourself! There are things in life with which we must comply, like it or not! The point is that if we fear life then we put ourselves in opposition to it! Humility offers us another way of thinking about life!
I would like to suggest that humility is not some perversion of the human spirit. It’s not a “giving up” but a healthy “giving in” to what the Divine is asking of us! Humility is more akin to an alertness than to a deadness. Humility is actually about flexibility. When bad things happen then do an end-run around unhappiness and enjoy a good meal, sing with some friends, find something or someone to celebrate. In short, throw a luau for others! Fear is not the only option for daily living! As Hawaiians constantly show us with their healthy humility, Life gives us the opportunity to be happy each day. Only we let events take that happiness away from us by living in fear.