One early teaching of the Hawaiian “Aloha Spirit” is as follows:
Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain – it is my pain. When there is joy – it is also mine. I respect all that is as part of the Creator and part of me. I will not willfully harm anyone or anything. When food is needed I will take only my need and explain why it is being taken. The earth, the sky, the sea are mine to care for, to cherish and to protect. This is Hawaiian – this is Aloha!
The community here is very focused on following this path of life. I wouldn’t say that it’s consumptive, but it is definitely at the forefront of people’s minds. Driving is done with the Aloha spirit. Retail transactions are done with the Aloha spirit. Strangers on the street are greeted with a smile and an “Aloha!” It is pervasive in a way I didn’t expect. In fact, even though this is a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, and the humid weather, wind, and surf are like nothing I’ve ever really experienced before, the “Aloha Spirit” is what makes this feel like different world.
Looking at it from a Christian context, there are definitely parallels to my faith. In fact, it reminds me very much of a chapter from early in my current reading material, C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity: “The first thing to get clear about Christian morality between man and man is that in this department Christ did not come to preach any brand new morality. The Golden Rule of the New Testament (Do as you would be done by) is a summing up of what everyone, at bottom, had always known to be right. Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities . . . The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see; like bringing a horse back and back to the fence it has refused to jump or bringing a child back and back to the bit in its lesson that it wants to shirk.”
Let’s start by looking at that first idea: Christ didn’t really teach us anything about social morality that we didn’t already know. My old roommate and I were talking about one night this week, and we both agreed that essentially if you boil down any of the great moral philosophies, they basically all employ this same concept: Love others as we love ourselves. They do NOT say to love others instead of ourselves, or to love others more than ourselves. As it relates particularly to Christianity, if we are all a part of Christ, and we are united with and through God, then doing wrongly by another means doing wrongly by ourselves, and wrongly by God. The inverse is also true: treat others rightly, treat ourselves rightly, treat God rightly. I’m not sure that it ever really occurred to me before that we oughtn’t treat others as ourselves out of respect and love, but because in a large way, others are ourselves.
This mirrors exactly the first idea of the Aloha spirit mentioned above: “Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain – it is my pain. When there is joy – it is also mine.” Being a part of Christ’s life on Earth means that if we hurt each other, we hurt ourselves.
This also reminds me of what Paul wrote in Colossians: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13,14). Paul shows us that treating each other as God would teach us binds us together in our love, and in His love.
I know it’s kitchy, but this idea also reminds me of the opening line of “I am the Walrus,” by The Beatles.
I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together