In today’s cosmopolitan Hawaii, an American archipelago, Aloha spirit acts as a counterbalance: it promotes empathy and mutual aid.
In Hawaii, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the word appears everywhere: on storefronts, in business fronts, on the front pages of tourist brochures… Here, aloha is said for hello, welcome or goodbye, so much so that this American archipelago of 137 islands is nicknamed “the aloha State”.
This word is not just a greeting. Aloha spreads a whole philosophy of life inherited from the first Polynesians. “The expression means a lot and has always existed,” says Jolee Sunshine Chip, historian and coordinator of the Hulihe’e Palace Museum (antique furniture and Hawaiian art objects) on Big Island. “Hawaiian thought advocates respect for everything because everything has a purpose and a reason to exist, even garbage! »
But what exactly does aloha mean?” Alo” means “face to face”; “ha” means “the breath of life”. In French, aloha can therefore be translated as follows: “you and I, we share the same breath.” This image celebrates the vital energy materialized by the breath. It spreads benevolence, compassion, love, unity and tranquility. The root of the word is found in other neighbouring languages, Maori, Samoan or Tahitian.
In today’s Hawaii, where money and individualism sometimes flourish to excess, aloha spirit creates a kind of counterbalance. It humanizes relationships, fosters consideration, empathy and mutual aid. “Many visitors talk about it, they find that everyone is nice here,” notes Luvlee. “I think we’ve been able to maintain this mentality thanks to the islands: because here, you know that you’ll see the people you meet again. »
Tolerance and kindness
“Aloha is the broadest way to spread tolerance and kindness,” says Pohai Ryan, president of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, which teaches Hawaiian culture and values to employees in the tourism industry. “This spiritual principle is found in every religion, in every civilization, but what is unique here is its cosmopolitan nature. »
Neither proselyte nor religious, Aloha Spirit speaks to all the Hawaiian people, whether they are of indigenous, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, European, American origin… Since 1986, the word Aloha has been enshrined in the Constitution. A symbolic act intended to perpetuate the philosophy of the archipelago.