Preface: This post was originally published in 2005, thus that dating in the comments brought forward with it, and I have freshened up the links it contains.
Happy 4th of July.
When I was younger, this was a holiday that meant little more to me than an extra day off from school. I was just 5 years old when Hawaii became the 50th State, and as I grew up our islands were in somewhat of an identity crisis still, with some happy to be American, and others not. However everyone wanted to “just get along” (a pervading feeling which is overdue for a comeback) and so the 4th was a holiday that was celebrated more as time for the ‘ohana (family) with little mention of patriotism even though there might be some passionate thought about it.
From picnics and hot dogs… Your perspective can really change as you get older.
The 4th of July holiday has meant a little bit more to me with each passing year. Now, among other things, I remember having lived through Viet Nam, The Gulf War, continuous Hawaiian sovereignty movements, and the death of Martin Luther King.
As I reflect back on the meaning of the 4th of July this morning, I’m wondering what it will evolve to when I’m 70 or 80 (which I fully intend to live for!) This year, the fact that I personally know so many soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq does have much to do with my thoughts. Here’s a snippet from the last email I got from my brother Jeff, a Lt.Colonel with the Army in Iraq:
I had to laugh when you guys write about how hot it is in HI and AZ. This place is hot 115-120 degrees and climbing, that is outside and not the oven temp. 100 degree days we consider as cool, add in the finest dust you can imagine and then add in the smell of sewage and you might get the picture.
I tell everyone imagine the hottest day ever in HI add 10 degrees then stand with a blower dryer on high hot in your face then throw dust in your face while in a outhouse and you got Iraq. Don’t forget to wear long sleeves, boots and carry 40 pounds of junk around with you. That’s hot, then take a cool shower (when you have one) and feel good for 2 minutes then walk back to your room (when you have one) to get sweaty and dirty by the time you reach there. By the way do this everyday with no days off. I can’t wait to come home for some rest. It really is so bad, sometimes. When you see smiling Iraqi people’s faces and the letters from people supporting us all that grumbling is forgotten.
I would like to thank all of you for your support to me, my family and my fellow brothers and sisters in arms. I hope to see you soon.
No matter what we may think of our involvement in Iraq, Jeff reminds us that this is a day to be thankful for where we live, and for the values that America strives to be true to. It is truly a day to understand the gift of freedom.
What are the values of the Red, White and Blue?
It will not surprise you that today, this year, and probably forevermore, I think of them in the language of Managing with Aloha this way: (If you are new to Talking Story and my values-based philosophy, take a look to blog right ~ the basic definitions for these values are noted there.)
First, Aloha: Think of unconditional love and acceptance for all who choose to live in America, and the sharing of our spirit. We are a country of blended ancestry, and to be American is to share our Aloha and our Ho‘okipa, the hospitality of completely unselfish giving. Give your love as your acceptance of our shared humanity.
Lōkahi: Harmony and unity. When I think of blended ancestry I also think of blended cultural values, and how we must always strive to value the differences between us. Strive for collaboration and synergy: cooperation and compromise cannot be good enough.
Therefore, Kākou: Togetherness and Inclusiveness, and the language of “we.” No burden will be too great if we shoulder it together. Together we are better, and we are stronger, and we can always Ho‘omau: persevere and cause the good in our lives to last.
Ha‘aha‘a: Humility, and the constant reminder that we are still a young country with much to learn. We must be humble, be more modest, and open our thoughts, understanding that there are lessons and new discoveries within the words and voices of others. Humility is not lowliness: I believe the Hawaiians were very wise in understanding that pride is indeed part of humility, choosing the same word for it.
‘Ike loa: To seek knowledge and wisdom. Always remember that the greatest knowledge is found in people. Use conversation, and practices like The Daily 5 Minutes to tap into that wealth.
‘Imi ola: We seek to live our best possible life. What do you feel is the mission statement of the United States? Is it the Constitution? The Bill of Rights? Both? Something else? A mission is a compelling vision of our future — in America, what is ours?
‘Ohana: The human circle of Aloha. That is what is possible for us, both daily and for all time. It can be our legacy.
KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u: The value of achievement and personal excellence. “Strive to reach the summit” for ‘Ohana is but one goal that is possible when you live in a country founded on freedom.
Mahalo: The value of living in thankfulness for the gifts you have — and in our country there are many. Freedom, and the freedom of choice are but two of them.
Mālama: To serve and honor, to protect and care for. As my brother Jeff tells it, this is what the soldiers of his battalion remind themselves of continuously, that they are our appointed stewards. In our own ways, we can mālama too; they need not be alone in what they do.
Therefore, Kuleana: One’s personal sense of responsibility. We each much define it for ourselves, and then seize it.
And Pono: Rightness and balance. Come to terms with what your personal Kuleana is. Commit to being accountable. Nānā i ke kumu: Look to your source, find your truth.
Ho‘ohanohano: Respect and honor the dignity of others, of all races, creed, color, gender, and personal belief, even when different from our own. Be more than an American of honor, be a person of honor. Be Alaka‘i, and lead others with your own initiative and integrity.
And my personal mantra, Ho‘ohana: Working with passion, purpose, and intent. Because in America, in every truly free country in the world, we can. We get to, whenever we want to. We decide our own how-to.
Ka lā hiki ola: The dawning of a new day in America will always be the dawning of a free day, and another new day of abundant choices, abundant voices.
Enjoy your 4th of July knowing there is so, so much we can never take for granted.
To learn more about these values, and the ways they can shape our behavior and thus, our humanity, I invite you to learn more about Managing with Aloha ~ mahalo.