In old Hawaii, masters of agriculture farmed the land. Irrigation ditches were built for the taro, that returned water to the natural streams and kept the ecosystems that were dependent on this supply downstream alive. The Hawaiian word for wealth, 'ama 'ama literally translates to water water.
Aina is the term which acknowledges the interconnected ness we have with the land. In the past, the land belonged to everyone. Rights to work the land, or 'kuleana', permitted a household space to live and work the land. A pie-shaped unit of land that stretched from mountain to ocean, or 'ahupua'a', was the basic unit of taxation and was managed by one chief. In this region, everything was owned together as a social unit, and resources were freely shared among its people. They shared their goods and worked on big projects together.
The people learned that successful island living depends on a high level of trust, tolerance, and mutual cooperation. Sociologists call this 'social capital'. The Aloha Spirit can be further broken down into these values:
- Malama: to care for
- Ohana: family
- Ho'okopia: hospitality
- 'Olu'olu: graciousness, pleasantness, good manners
- Kokua: helpfulness
- Lokahi: unity, harmony
- Kupono: honest, fair, upright
The Europreans, who came to the island, brought with them many diseases, including venereal disease, which wreaked havoc on the native people and their way of life. They also brought the concept of land ownership, something unheard of in native Hawaiian tradition. The Mahele is the document that was signed to make 'land accessible to the people through ownership'. This changed the lives of the people forever; the business owners, government, and king took the property for themselves, with a scant one percent left for the people, land law is important today in Hawaii, however, as old ways still apply to water and beaches. Beachfront is accessible to all.
I felt the aina this morning in the condo by the golf course as I made breakfast. The energy of the neighbors and the land for the first time connected to and supported me. Aina exists in the cute suburb called Kapolei. It felt good.
I was making my morning tonic I learned from Hope Johnson: warm water, one spoonful of honey, one spoonful of apple vinegar (the kind with the cloudy stuff on bottom is best), and juice of one lime. I recommend it. It will make you feel wonderful after morning yoga. <3
On big Island aina is easier to feel. People live off the land and through mutual friendships provide eggs, milk, and extra produce. On the road courtesy is incredible to appreciate--for a native L.A. Driver like me!
No matter where you go, aina is alive in the aloha spirit of the islands.
Guess what? I have a hunch that aloha is coming to everyone after the Event! Can you imagine all of the seven Hawaiian values held by everyone you meet? That is Heaven on Earth!
How wonderful is that?