Friday, November 13, 2009

The Aloha People

I thought “aloha” meant both ‘hello’ and ‘good-bye’.  I guess in a way, it does but it also means “love” or as one writer expressed it, “loving hello”.  Isn’t it impressive if a people greet in such a way?  Shouldn’t Christians be impressed with such a practice?
We learned that New England missionaries in about 1820 came to the Hawaiian islands to convert people but at the same time, assisted the ruler of the islands in beginning to write the native language for the first time.  They had to create the alphabet.  Just in comparison, Finnish was not a written language until about 1840 or 1850.
We also learned that Captain James Cook was the first Caucasian to visit the islands in 1778, not that long before the New England missionaries. 
I thought the hula was a sexy dance and no doubt it can be.  But, we learned that both men and women study hula quite seriously and that it is an expressive dance with religious and spiritual themes and purposes.
I had never paid much attention to Hawaiian music but we learned to appreciate its use of falsetto and open transition into and out of the falsetto voice.  We learned to enjoy its gentle rhythms and hypnotic relaxed tones.
From a little time in Australia and reading “The Fatal Shore” by the peppery Robert Hughes, from a little time in New Zealand with both whites and Maori and from a little time in Hawaii, I got the impression that the Australian aborigines were in Australia 60,000 years ago and seemed rather primitive and undeveloped to English eyes.  The Maori of New Zealand reached that land a comparatively short time before the Europeans and were quite fierce.  The Hawaiians came to Hawaii in two major thrusts from the south Pacific and developed a gentleness not like most other people I have heard about.
Both “The Seven Daughters of Eve” by Bryan Sykes and “Deep Ancestry” by Spencer Wells (he of the National Geographic’s Genographic Project using DNA analysis to map the spread of humans from central Africa) have interesting comments about all the Polynesians and their amazing navigation of the vast Pacific.

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