Aloha: More than a Word

In Hawaii you meet visitors every day from all over the place. Many have a preconceived notion of what Hawaiian life is all about. The tourism commercials and literature have seemed to convince people that saying “Aloha” to someone is akin to saying hello and goodbye. While this is partially true in that the word is said both in greetings and farewells, it undervalues the entire concept altogether. The following observation is submitted humbly to all from one writer's observation, based on living in the islands having not been born here. But the statement comes from daily lessons from nearly everyone I have encountered in the islands, and the experience enough has led me to believe that the observation is true, which is this:  Aloha is not something you say. It is something that you live. It’s a philosophy—one that I believe is core to all humanity, but the Polynesian culture simply wove it into the fabric of their daily life through common language. Aloha (Or Aroha in Maori—the word is used across Polynesia) is the term for the inexplicable bond we all should have with one another. Somewhere along the way society lost track of that. So what does it mean, exactly? What does it really mean? When people ask me that question I simply tell them that they need to feel it for themselves. Because anyone who comes here—even the most touristy of tourists—can feel it. It’s in the air. And the sea. and through the mana of the land (that’s another post altogether). Essentially, Aloha is all about the love. What that means is that whomever you come across, you will treat them in a manner fit for what they need. Not to say that you are to judge them, but you will show respect and the assumption that we are all here to have a good time. Sometimes people don’t reciprocate good tidings of joy, leading to a feeling of abrasion. That’s why you may hear the saying that "aloha goes both ways". If you come to the islands, try to pay attention to the times when the locals actually say "Aloha." You’ll see that the casual greeting will more often be “howzit?” You’ll see that “Aloha” is most often used in a sincere manner, after making a connection. Because at the end of the day we all have Aloha within us. The difference is if you demonstrate it through actions before words. Words do carry weight—and “Aloha” can be one of the heaviest hitters out there. And on that note, I’ll simply bid you, Aloha. By Steve Andrews