I tend to stay away from commenting on highly contentious, emotionally charged ‘news’ issues, for I’m fully aware that noisy opinions can make me way too reactive, and less reasonable as well. What we hear on broadcast television and/or social media is often skewed for ratings and sensationalism, whether founded in extreme personal experiences (albeit sad and unfortunate ones), or crowd-thinking which can cause us to quiet our voices of reason, or worse, get us to question our voices: Are they right, and am I wrong?
Human nature? Perhaps, but there is more to it than impulses we give in to — at first.
I for one will return to this certainty: Our values drive our behavior. Should you choose Aloha, as I am known for asking all of us to do, you choose to self-manage with that value of self-love and mutual respect for other human beings that defines what Aloha is all about.
Human nature is both reactive by impulse, and proactive by choice. To be human, is to be emotionally reactive, and it is sometimes very difficult to turn that off. However, we can turn it off. We can channel our impulses and reactions: To be human is also to have the ability to think before acting, to choose right from wrong, and to solve our ills rather than stopping at justifying one wrong with another one.
For example, one of my own values-driven beliefs irrevocably connected to Aloha, is that stone-throwing, rioting, burning and looting in the name of justice is wrong, no matter what the circumstances may be. There may be a need for peaceful protest, but never violence, and never destructive trespass; never. Ill-begotten personal gains for one person, does not translate into justice for someone else. There is absolutely nothing anyone can say to have me believe otherwise.
There is no reason to share our personal ugliness with another human being, no matter how much we hurt. Because it is connected to Aloha, this belief helps me turn off any impulsive, negative reactions much more quickly, helping me transition to reasonable, proactive, problem-solving behaviors instead.
- I will think about ‘Ohana, the value of family and community, and never seek to hurt others whenever I may be hurting, and whenever I may have been wronged.
- I will turn my attentions to solving the true root causes of the hurtful problem instead: I will think about Kuleana, and what my own responsibility is.
- I will think about Ho‘ohana, and choose the corrective work I can choose to do within my own circle of influence.
None of that may be easy, they seldom are, but I will move myself in their direction because I choose to, and I self-manage with self-discipline and self-determination. Aloha is the best self-managing behavior you can possibly choose, and make no mistake about it: We choose our values, and thus, we choose our behavior.
Human beings are sensory, perceptive, and highly intelligent: We know right from wrong.
Human beings can choose courageous virtue and morality: We know when our actions do more damage than good, and that knowledge helps us face difficulty and adversity.
We also have opinions, and we choose when, and where, and in what context we will
state share them, so that we speak with Aloha.
When we witness racial or class-specific issues, many will say that people who are outside that race or class have no right to an opinion about it, e.g. “Unless you walk in my shoes, shut the hell up.” I can, and I will respect that I lack personal experience with certain things (for instance, I am not black, and not white; I’m an Asian/Eurasian/Caucasian islander.) In my respect for you, I will assure your voice is heard, and that I listen, and that I ask the questions that will help me understand you better. However, I will not shut up if and when I feel I have something good, positive, right and compassionate to say (the values of Pono and Mālama), invoking those values for better behaviors taking us forward together.
We are in this together, Kākou: We need not have common experiences in order to explore them, and then solve them together. In fact, our diversity will make us stronger, and make us better as co-existing human beings in inclusively respectful communities. Diversity and inclusive thinking drive higher levels of compassion and understanding, and they contribute to the learning we need to experience when faced with complex issues. Effective problem solving has never required that we be of the same race, religion or faith, political persuasion or insiders’ group.
So please, let’s not seek to shut each other up demanding sameness in order to be heard. It takes much, much longer to achieve breakthroughs in situations of sanitized sameness, where we have flushed out any and all catalysts for possible change. The more voices we can hear about our issues, the better.
However, let’s all commit to self-managing our reactive voices and behaviors in positive ways.
Let’s be better, for we are human beings, and we can be better; a capability of our species. Let’s respect what others can offer in wanting to help us. Let’s never seek vigilante justice. Only good begets more good.
If you are visiting Managing with Aloha for the first time, you can learn more about the Hawaiian values I have mentioned via the grey navigational bars atop the site page. More related reading: