Tonight I took part in a gathering of activists who want to see a FREE HAWAII, meaning, a Hawaii with the freedom to self-rule as the Sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii. In the room are activists who have gone through numerous arrests, some serving prison time, others still battling in court. They are warriors who have sacrificed of their comfort, safety, and reputation for the love of their nation and people. They are a people filled with aloha.
What is aloha? Who can describe it? We often say aloha is love, aloha is a greeting, aloha is consideration. But how is aloha expressed? Only as it is expressed can it be truly known. One of the courageous activist uncles took time after the meeting tonight to paint a beautiful picture of what aloha is.
In Hawaii, he explained, you have family, neighbors, and friends. Everyone is valuable and important. When you come into a room and find a mess, you clean it up, because the next person to come in will be your family, neighbor, or your friend. When someone is in need, you serve them because they are your family, neighbor or friend. There were no kapuna (elders) in the old Hawaii who went hungry because the people felt it was their kuliana (responsibility) to care for all of their kapuna. It is a community of caring, sharing, and serving: aloha.
In this beautiful community, what was important? What constituted wealth? In the words of this wizened uncle, the Hawaiian people did not treasure possessions. If someone had a bunch of kalo (taro root, the Hawaiian staple food), he could amass this in his house and appear wealthy, but three days later, his taro would be rotten. Or, a Hawaiian man could gather a bunch of dried fish into his house and appear wealthy, but then he would also collect all the rats on the island! No, what Hawaiians consider wealth, is the extent to which they can serve others, welcoming them into their homes, feeding and caring for them.
I couldn’t help but marvel. This beautiful life of service reflects the heart of our God who loves to pour out gifts on his children. It is his delight to supply all of our needs. And above all the good things he has given us, he gave us his son as a sacrifice for all of our wrongs against him. He took what was most precious to him and relinquished to us, his greatest gift ever: Jesus. Aloha is serving, giving, and loving to the hilt.
Now I understand why Hawaii feels so different than any place in the world. The people carry aloha, and they live it. It is real, not just words. Often, people who love, sacrifice, and serve this much are considered soft or weak and are easily taken advantage of. Their greatest strength is taken as weakness and exploited, commodified, and sold. But as much as hula, luaus, and lei can be marketed to tourists in plastic wrapping at exorbitant prices, aloha cannot be sold. It is this aloha that preserves the beauty of this culture that so uniquely reflects God’s heart. And it is this aloha that will usher in the restoration of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the Kingdom of Heaven.