Barack Obama had a family that was very conscious of values. “If you want to grow into a human being, you’re going to need some values,” she said to Barack. What a great thing for a mother to tell a young son trying to grow up. Most young people do not even think about values in that way. Usually they just want to know how much things cost.
As I read his book, Dreams from My Father, I was reminded of my visits to Hawaii where Barack was raised. They have a custom in Hawaii that if an older person or an invalid person gets on the bus, the younger people are required by law to get up and give them their seat. They can get kicked off the bus if they do not. People are valued very highly in that culture, especially the older and frailer.
To me that says a whole lot.
When I learned that Barack was raised in Hawaii, I was very curious about him. Hawaii is such a culturally diverse state that being half black would probably not have the same effect upon him it would have had he been raised on the mainland. I was reminded of the Hawaiian abalone diver I once met who was white, redheaded and had freckles.
He told me he was a rusty Hawaiian.
Barack was born in Kansas and his family moved to Hawaii when he was three. At age seven he lived in Indonesia for about three years where he experienced two different schools, a few months in a muslin school and a couple of years in a catholic school. By age ten he was back in Hawaii where he stayed until he graduated from a neat Hawaiian high school. He had great grandparents whom he lived with when his mom was away.
Some of the Hawaiians I have known tell me they get ‘island fever.’ Sometimes they feel like they just have to leave the islands and see the rest of the world. A lot of them go to California, which is where Obama went to start college at Occidental in Los Angeles. But he was only there two years when he went to New York.
I envy Barack those years of high school spent in Hawaii, playing in the ocean, surfing, being a young athlete and trying to find his way in life. But even though he eventually left Hawaii I think he took a big part of it with him, especially the ‘Spirit of Aloha’ which to Hawaiians is a way of life.
Hawaiians practice aloha by being loving and genuine in all interactions with people and nature, for they know that all life is connected. Aloha is holistic, as natural as breathing. Practicing the Spirit of Aloha means that everyone is family , ohana. To practice aloha, one must also practice forgiveness and be in balance , pono, to make yourself right. Aloha affects your whole being, your whole life.
In his book Barack tells about his younger years and how he anguished over who he was. His nickname was Barry then. I put some of his words in this poem:BARRY
Inner doubt is what I can’t help thinking about.
I just want to be who I am
But they won’t let me.
Am I awake? Or did I sell out?
Where is my pono, my balance?
My alienated, poisoned mind is learning to hate their demons.