This weekend a new Bradley Cooper (and a whole host of other stars) movie opens, called Aloha. It is a Cameron Crowe film that like so many movies, is opening to criticism regarding the word Aloha and the integrity of the word and its meaning to the Hawaiian people.
The article in EW (Entertainment Weekly on line) talks about the new Rom-Com and how it appears to portray Hawaii in a very ‘white’ way. That “Caucasians only make up 30 percent of the population [of Hawaii], but from watching this film, you’d think they made up 99 percent.” They went on to say that they would bastardize the word “Aloha”.
After travelling to Hawaii for work in 2012 I can tell you that I understand what the article means when it refers to the word Aloha. If you have ever been you will understand what I mean by that.
When we landed in Honolulu airport we got off the plane and started to walk through the terminal. There was an incredible floral smell in the air. I thought of course it is the Hawaiian air, but I was quickly shown that it was in fact, our group receiving our beautiful lei arrival greeting.
We wore our leis to our hotels and the next day we were told how special and sacred the leis actually were. The are regarded highly and with a lot of respect. It is customary to return the lei to the ‘earth’ either by hanging in on a tree or plant, or what has become a ‘hollywood’ tradition, bringing it to the water and letting it go into the water.
It was an educational trip that did not disappoint.We learned about the meaning of the “Aloha Spirit”, and how as I mentioned above, it is much more than saying hello.
“Aloha” was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii.
“Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.
“Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.
“Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.
“Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.
Our tour guide, said to us that when people go on vacation their body is usually depleted. Depleted and in need for renewal, which makes sense. We need vitamin D from the sunshine, we need to get away from the daily routine of life with alarm clocks, working, scheduling, traffic. He said that when you come to Hawaii, you are depleted and in need of the Spirit of Aloha to lift you up and give you what you need to return home. After being to Hawaii twice, I totally agree with that way of thinking.
I think it would be strange if we started walking around Toronto saying Aloha to people instead of Hello, but perhaps we can find meaning in the word hello and care when you are saying it to someone.
Think about that today,