Preface: The original version of this post was published on my Talking Story blog in 2006, and given the atmosphere of 2017 I thought it was a good time for a look back and fresh edit. Much has changed in these past eleven years, and often, the best way to go forward, is to look back and remember what you wish would live on, so you take those purposeful actions which must be taken. Wishing and hoping has never been the best strategy: We Ho‘ohana kākou (we work with intention, together), for ‘Imi ola—we seek to live our best possible lives.
At the time this was initially written, our value of the month was Lokomaika‘i, the Hawaiian value of generosity, and within our value immersion we worked to illustrate and reap the benefits generosity delivers to us. There are far more values in the Hawaiian culture than the 19 featured in Managing with Aloha, and Lokomaika‘i has been one we have revisited often, for it fortifies our Aloha Spirit exceptionally well.
Admittedly a few of these virtues seem to be on shaky ground in 2017, but they have been challenged within our history before. As I read back on this, the character of generosity woven throughout it comforted and encouraged me, and I hope it delivers a measure of comfort and encouragement to you as well. I do believe we need more generosity of spirit today, seeking to be more inclusive (Kākou), more caring and compassionate (Mālama), and more understanding and cooperative (Lōkahi). When we live these values as our passionate beliefs and as the gifts we work on giving to others, everything improves, and we become better.
Red, White, and Blue Virtues
Independence. Patriotism. Freedom. Democracy.
All are fiercely passionate ideals, yet perhaps we need to be reminded of our gentler nature today, and the large capacity we have for being lokomaika‘i, generous and “of good heart” as we reflect on them.
Our ancestors fought courageously for these ideals, and today they are gifts we enjoy with very little time spent actually thinking about them. Even this time surrounding the 4th of July holiday, can become more about the time-off holiday bonuses of picnics, roadtrips, and other 3-day weekend pursuits.
This is a day and time it’s important to remember we have freedom of choice. We choose our values, we choose our ideals, we choose our actions.
These are choices we can make thanks to the freedoms we enjoy. When we keep our values in mind, they give us good counsel and direction. Our freedom does not give us right or permission to infringe upon the freedoms of others. Freedom is meant to be shared unconditionally and inclusively.
Beyond the values which serve us so well, there is something else which serves to strengthen them at their foundation, and that something steers us to interpret our chosen values in ways that are for good. They are virtues, and “Within virtue, we set our hearts free.”
I have written of virtues before, defining them as the character-building hallmarks of our “moral excellence.” A good concept to apply to this day we celebrate our country’s independence, don’t you think? Let’s give it more thought…
Imagine these as our Red White and Blue Virtues: Adopt them with me.
Freedom. A lokomaika‘i connection to giving and generosity if there ever was one! When we fight for freedom, whether in America or elsewhere, we make a statement that freedom is something everyone should have; not just the victor. Every person, and every heart is to be set free.
Hope. When we have a sense of independence, we have hope in ourselves, and our own capacity to fill our free moments with learning, with creativity, and with more bravery for unseen futures. We are unshackled, we are encouraged, and we feel nothing can hold us back, so we tell ourselves to forge on, becoming more confident and more courageous.
Humor. Ah, the great balancer! Humor keeps us humble, and keeps us learning in our exuberant patriotic zeal. We are always reminded how young we are as a country, stumbling in our naivete and adolescence. Critically important, humor tempers our tempers! The ability to laugh at ourselves serves us well as it keeps arrogance and hubris in check; we share our soapboxes and our spotlights.
Prayer. We have shied away from prayer in our efforts at political correctness, and I am often quite thankful for my age when I recall how I learned American History when in school. No teacher of mine ever left the religious influences out of the lesson, and there was a very liberating feeling about having everything taught to me uncensored. To pray for something, is to choose it, and to expect it as you also respect and revere it.
Vitality. There is such vibrancy within independence, patriotism and freedom. Each stokes such passionate fires of belief and conviction, and the causes we associate with them and rally behind become bigger than we humans are. They come to life, and they give us life. Passionate intention is never dull and boring; it is charged with energy and positivity.
Wonder. The story of America’s independence may be one of the greatest epics ever. Here we are, 241 years later, and our story still inspires us and challenges us. We wonder at the glory of it all, we wonder at the incredible belief we had in ourselves, and we wonder at all the possibilities still before us.
Trust. In our youth as a country we still have abundant trust in who we are and the democracy we stand for. We have never stopped believing, and tough as things might get, I honestly can’t imagine that we ever will. In God we trust, and in us we trust. We must. Trust in ourselves gives us the ability to make hard decisions. Trust in each other, gives us the knowledge that our efforts to evoke change or protect our constants will always be worth any struggle.
Faith. Like our trust, our faith never falters and never wavers. We have faith that ours will continue to be a land of plenty and opportunity, and that as long as we work hard enough, and smart enough, our faith will surely be rewarded. Faith is not solely religious; we can have faith in science, we can have faith in evolution, and we can have faith in the future.
Grace. Ah that we can have more charm and grace, and be kinder, gentler, and always with the Lokomaika‘i “of good heart.” It will be this virtue of grace that helps us to mentor and coach, and with the fine partner of humor, grace keeps our humility at the forefront of all our efforts to be as strong a country as we can possibly be. It is grace which keeps our doors open, so we may welcome newcomers and invite them to live among us, and thereby strengthen us with what they offer.
Gratitude. There is bountiful reason that America the Beautiful will be joyously sung throughout the country today. We have much to be thankful for, and we have far more to learn about demonstrating our appreciation more than we now do. Gratitude has been called the greatest healer, and that is a reputation gratitude has earned by merit of countless repeated experiences.
Joy. When all is said and done, this is what hard-earned freedom has delivered to us; joy. Happiness seems to be something we work on, whereas joy seems more of a resultant feeling which permeates us much as the Aloha Spirit does, and sometimes, it comes to us unexpectedly. When we allow our hearts to step in, joy gets revealed in countless expressions, and there are no limits to our enthusiasm, optimism, and energies. Joy radiates, and is thereby shared so easily and naturally.
Peace. The harmonious virtue of Lōkahi (harmony) and Pono (rightness) we can never, ever stop aiming for. If we were all lokomaika‘i, of good heart each and every day, perhaps we would better understand how fighting others for peace is so misguided. Aloha is a far, far better way.
Postscript, reprinted from The Twelve Aloha Virtues:
Virtue is not a word we hear all that much; it’s not a thought that crops up in the regularity and routine of our days. Well, let’s propose that we revive virtuous living as a wonderful new habit to keep within our practice of ALOHA. You may find that its warmth appeals to you too… after the year I can imagine we’ve shared, you deserve this. We all do.
What is Virtue? From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
“Virtue is the habitual, well-established, readiness or disposition of man’s powers directing them to some goodness of act. Virtue is the moral excellence of a man or a woman … as applied to humans, a virtue is a good character trait.”
How can you not like that, and want more of it?
Your character emerges from the deep inner weaving of your values, your spirit, and that emotional well-being which is quite instinctual for you: It is flushed out and propelled toward others on the vibrations of your good intentions. Indeed, the virtues you choose to practice were in fact chosen by your “moral excellence.”
Once he saw a youth blushing, and addressed him,
“Courage, my boy; that is the complexion of virtue.”
Diogenes encourages courage. Why? Morality can be a tough thing to get our arms around at times, for we are living in an age where we tend to play it safe. We can get reticent when talking about virtue and morality unless we are in the comfortable arms of our family and closest friends, or taking the leap in teaching our own children. I cannot separate my own faith from my list, and my effort in this writing, is to package virtue for us a bit in some ready-for-right-now goodness we can all share more openly.
“Values are what is important to you. Virtues are your good points.”
— Kuji; Values or Virtues? Both!
You can visit the Wikipedia entry on Virtue if you’d like more background on the four classic Western or Islamic “cardinal” virtues and so on. I present to you my writing, admittedly taken with full liberty present in my wanting, my faith, and my leap of faith in you even if I can’t say I know you. This is the “moral excellence” I know is undeniably me, and I shall focus on building it ever-stronger within my own character.
Source: Twelve Aloha Virtues.
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Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawai‘i’s Universal Values to the Art of Business
Our value immersion study for the months of July and August 2017:
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