A newcomer is beginning to realize that the superior people on the planet are those of Hawaiian heritage. Hawaiians have two concepts at the core of their culture that are alien to many. One is pono, the concept of doing the right thing. The other is aloha, defined in many ways, but at its heart, compassion for others.
Hawaiians also have a term for people who have been on this Earth for a very long time, like this columnist, who gain perspective if they are thinking people when they have been around a long time. Hawaiians with this perspective are called kupuna.
One Hawaiian with deep roots has noted that aloha can be acquired. It is taught to the youngest Hawaiians, but aloha can be embraced by visitors who come back year after year, learn to appreciate it and live it when they go back to the Mainland. Aloha is our greatest export.
One of our problems is that some people who have migrated here and come from different ethnic traditions often do not do what is pono, seldom acquire aloha and seem motivated more by anger than anything else.
Mean-spiritedness and failure to do what is right are alive in the land. Six fairly recent examples stand out...
A valet parking attendant is asked why a resort, all of a sudden, is going to reinforce a rule of no beach parking after 7 p.m. It will chain in cars without telling anyone.
DRIVER: "Maybe posting a special warning sign noting the new policy should be posted. Won't people be angry if their cars are held hostage?"
ATTENDANT: "I don't care." NOT ALOHA.
A LOCAL attends a festival free to all at a resort and spends money for lunch. She sits on the grass and is asked by a worker whether she is staying there. Answer: "No."
RESORT WORKER: "You cannot sit there." NO ALOHA.
Three days before Christmas, a nonprofit sends an e-mail to a volunteer making false allegations, claiming the volunteer has not done what he said he would do, stating that he is sabotaging the organization and there will be negative consequences. NOT PONO. NOT ALOHA.
All year, mean-spirited e-mails flow to a member of a condominium board. Things are said you would never say to someone face-to-face, and thoughtful ideas worthy of consideration are lambasted. The recipient's response is pono: just grin and bear it, no response. Result: the culprit continues to get away with mean-spirited behavior, and condo owners think everything is peachy keen where they live.
Poor behavior on the part of condominium board members is rampant and is largely an untold story. Having written of condo board abuses in the past, this columnist hears stories all the time of boards run amuck. Mostly no one knows.
Letter writers to The Maui News continually show disrespect for the presidency and the President of the United States. Criticize policies 100 percent of the time if you will, but don't demean the office. NOT ALOHA
A friend points out the County of Maui would do well to live pono. Against the advice of Hawaiians, the county many years ago built a West Maui sewage plant and pumps waste into injection wells, which new research shows is flowing into the ocean, destroying reefs.
The state collects, and the county gets, hundreds of hundreds of millions. Visitor industry dollars in the form of profits flow back to the Mainland. Yet, as another friend points out, why can't we have a first-class sewage plant in West Maui to protect the 'aina and kai?
Conventional wisdom says you don't write or talk about these things. But if their presence is not acknowledged, how can there be change?
This column will make the mean-spirited unhappy, as well as others who think these things should be left unsaid. The column is not targeted at any particular group but is for illustration.
It's impossible for most of us to acquire any Hawaiian blood unless we could marry a Hawaiian at a young age. But wouldn't it be nice if we could acquire some in spirit?
Columnist's Notebook: Via letters to the editor or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, your comments on this topic are welcome. And if you want instead to focus on how life is good, go to my blog at KaanapaliCondoNews.com to see scenes of joy every day. Coming soon, hopefully, many more columns about the remarkable people of Maui.