Flipping through television channels I caught 5 minutes of a movie where a late-teen youngster complains to the camera about his parents. This older Asian couple still maintains old-world customs like expressing thanks to the Diety, respect for ancestors and gratitude before eating. The teen wonders aloud, “Why would someone make so many sacrifices to come to a new place in order to live in the same old way?” The teen’s problem is that he has been raised in a modern popular culture fundamentally opposed and different from that of his parents! The new culture neither cherishes nor respects those values which are at the heart of his parents customs like respect, reverence and gratitude! Being brought up in a modern-day culture which extols the “self”, “rights” and the constant need to best others in order to “get ahead” has the teen seeing his parent’s values as culturally irrelevant relics!
We live in an age of alienation! Despite the manifold ways of being in contact with others many still feel alone, isolated and without an anchor in their life! My theory is that without the positive values of respect, reverence and gratitude we are indeed adrift! It seems to me an issue key to the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy by American businessmen was valuing money-making more than the values at the heart of the Hawaiian psyche, culture and spirituality. With respect, reverence and gratitude almost 100 years after the takeover the depths of Hawaiian spiritual life still focuses on their ancient values in the dedication and proliferation of hula halau, ancient mele and native crafts!
Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” I do not live in Hawaii yet so I have no idea whether or not today’s Hawaiian keiki view their parents as Mark Twain viewed his father or the teenager in the film I mentioned above. The biggest difference between that film and Hawaii is that native Hawaiian parents did not have to leave “the old country” but instead a foreign group came in and tried to eradicate whatever they disagreed with! Thankfully the values cherished by native Hawaiians are still actively lived out and taught in today’s Hawaii !! Nonetheless I still want to know if there is a cultural and spiritual divide between today’s Hawaiian keiki and their older parents?