The holidays bring seasonal birds that winter here, humpback whales that come to give birth, and relatives coming home to celebrate the turn of seasons. Many snowbirds come; visitors escaping harsh cold and snow, and families celebrating the holidays while the kids are out of school.
When you visit a different culture, it is wise to learn a great deal about the people you are visiting. It is their home, their culture. Kaua’i is distinctly different from any other place in the United States.
Apart from being the one of the most remote islands in the world, all of Hawai’i is different from any other culture on the Mainland. We are tiny, we are multicultural, and we are related more deeply than most places on the Mainland.
You might say to yourself, “OK, this is not a foreign country, this is America. I know what to expect.” You could not be further from the truth.
While your hotel might look just as you expected from the brochures and the Web, it is a small bubble inside a large, indigenous culture. Even other distinctive cultural groups who have migrated here, as different as they may be, share a number of things in common. Besides intermarriage, we are always deeply related in an interlinked community of mutual cooperation and trust. We couldn’t get by in such a tiny place without this.
We have learned we all depend on each other, and we respect each other’s differences as a traditional hallmark of their cultures. We don’t expect each other to always understand the way we think or speak. And we make allowances for each other. The way I get to be myself, just as a Celtic, Hispanic, Viking, Scots, Anglo Saxon, Iberian, Mediterranean, Sephardic or African, thanks to hundreds of migrations and millennia of ancestors.
Despite our differences, we share a common fate on a common island, and on a shrinking planet. No one is immune to the vast disasters that can sweep through a community, and no matter what, on Kaua‘i, the community rallies.
When you land on this still raw (after 5 million years,) volcanic island, you are closer here to the Earth’s core, the beating heart of our planet, than anywhere, except, the Big Island, where pulsating magma below the surface is still building the island.
You have a new day in one of the newest parts of the Earth, and a fresh chance to learn about each other’s culture. We have much to teach each other, and much to learn. Time is getting too short between disasters to allow any disharmony to enter our relationships.
We need to respect those who serve us, whether from high office or a reception desk, a warrior or a waiter, a mother or a grandmother, we all are precious resources for each other.
See the power you have when you brighten someone’s eyes with a thank you, a good morning, an aloha, and even a smile. When will you ever have a better chance to fill your life with aloha but now? Keeping your heart open is a practice, and it will make you feel good. Aloha is the gift that keeps on giving. Mele Kalikimaka!