Rant & Rave


Thursday, May 3, 2001

When did Aloha
Spirit disappear?

I gently pressed the pedal, peering around for the slightest indication of impending danger. Failing to sense any, I gently shifted my foot to the gas, cautiously letting my Toyota Cressida roll forward.

Suddenly, I caught a glimmer at the extreme of my vision. I instinctively jerked my head left and discovered a blue van heading straight for me. The driver must have been doing 40 as he swerved into Koko Marina Shopping Center on that Saturday. My heart raced, but not as quickly as my feet. Had I moved even a second slower, I don't think I'd be writing this column today.

This is a drastic example of what I feel is a growing trend in Hawaii. People don't care for each other anymore. What were common courtesies 10 years ago have all but vanished in today's fast-paced, instant-gratification society. It seems that people don't have the time nor the inclination to worry about somebody else's problems when they need to deal with every detail of their lives.

Nowthat I have my driver's license, I'm fortunate to see the problem of inconsiderate people from two points-of-view. As a pedestrian, cars don't slow down for me; as a driver, people on foot step into the roadway as if they're invincible. All of it strikes me as incredibly uncouth, to say the least.

The loss of the aloha spirit is pervading our state, and the most frightening aspect of this degradation is that it's happening before my eyes. I remember a time only a few years ago when people would be shunned by their neighbors for the widespread rudeness and lack of common courtesy we see on an almost daily basis today. So common are these problems now that people give them no more than passing looks.

In Hawaiian culture, the Golden Rule of the Western world is known as the aloha spirit. It describes a system of values where one takes care of their responsibilities, or kuleana, and shows malama, "compassion," for their neighbors. This value system was the norm in our islands as recently as five years ago. However, recent years have been marked by sudden changes in the way people in Hawaii treat each other.

I miss the days when people offered to open doors for others, strangers saying "thank you" when I stop to point them in the right direction, and most importantly, people smiling in cars as they waved me across a busy street. These simple courtesies have vanished, replaced by people in a hurry to get wherever they're going right now, no matter who they have to trample along the way.

If Hawaii is to continue being known as the "Aloha State," changes need to be made. These improvements don't need to be drastic; just a passing concern for somebody else is all it would take to jump-start us back in the right direction.

Once people start seeing the effects true aloha can have, I'm confident we'll be able to bring these traditions back to life in Hawaii, provided we malama together.

Jesse Barros is a junior
at Kamehameha Schools.

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