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Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Aloha Spirit

Many people around the world are familiar by now with the term "Aloha Spirit." For many tourist or malihini (transplants) The Aloha Spirit means the car bumper sticker that annoyingly says "Live Aloha" or someone allowing you to take a left turn in heavy traffic. Yes, we have traffic in Hawaii!! But, this is just the surface of what Aloha really means. In fact, many people in Hawaii, including locals, tend to use The Aloha Spirit in the complete opposite way of what it really truly means. Often times it is used in a condescending or scolding manner or even as a sense of entitlement. Growing up on Kauai, I was blessed to be raised among Hawaiians who really exuded The Aloha Spirit and it was through their role modeling that I learned what the essense of Aloha really was and meant from an early age. This doesn't imply that I have "aloha" everyday because there are days when it is very difficult, but at least I know the difference and that's half the battle! 

Many people are also unaware that The Aloha Spirit is an existing law in Hawaii since 1986. It is to me one of the best explanations of The Aloha Spirit. The law states that all citizens and government officials of Hawai`i are obligated by law to conduct themselves in accordance with this law, while performing their duties and obligations, as well as in their day-to-day living. Likewise, those visiting our fair islands are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with this Hawaiian law. 

The Aloha Spirit Law, 1986, Hawai`i Revised Statutes (5.7-5)
 [§5-7.5]  "Aloha Spirit" 

(a)  "Aloha Spirit" is the coordination of mind and heart within each person.  It brings each person to the self.  Each person must think and emote good feelings to others.  In the contemplation and presence of the life force, "Aloha", the following unuhi laula loa (free translation) may be used:

Akahai, [ah kah hai'], meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;     

Lōkahi, [LOH' kah hee], meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;

`Olu`olu, [oh' loo oh' loo], meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;

Ha`aha`a, [hah' ah hah' ah], meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;

Ahonui, [ah hoh nui'], meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii's people.  It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii. 

"Aloha" is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. 

"Aloha" means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. 

"Aloha" is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. 

"Aloha" means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

 (b)  In exercising their power on behalf of the people and in fulfillment of their responsibilities, obligations and service to the people, the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit, and district courts may contemplate and reside with the life force and give consideration to the "Aloha Spirit". [L 1986, c 202, §1]

The yellow hibiscus: the official state flower of Hawaii

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