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Essays by Liah

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As a resident of Maui since 2004, I have been humbled to learn about the Hawaiian culture. I consider one idea in particular to be especially supportive of harmony in the islands. The word is:'ohana. According to Wikipedia: "The word  Ľohana means family... and friends are bound together and everyone must work together and not forget each other." It is common for the idea of 'ohana to be applied when people work collectively, such as at a hotel or restaurant. For example, the hotel staff would be considered a "work 'ohana. In schools, the families that all send their children to the same school could be considered a school 'ohana. When you are part of an 'ohana there is an unspoken pact to help one another and care for each other. If this concept were expanded to include all the residents on each island or all the people in your area, then there would automatically be an incentive to buy locally and support one another in having successful livelihoods.

This philosophy of learning to see your neighbors, coworkers and fellow travelers on the path of life as 'ohana could radically change the way commerce happens. When you care about another you look out for their wellbeing. Their success and happiness becomes important to you. This feeling of 'ohana creates a loyalty and a sense of pride in the work that is done together, rather than only from or for an individual's benefit. There is gratification in the sense of teamwork and a job well done.

This inclusive thinking is in direct contrast to how most businesses are governed. Usually the focus is merely on profit and not on unity of purpose or a sense of connection to a greater whole. Consider shopping at a large grocery store and the soulless feeling of purchasing items that have no personal connection to the seller, and there is no sense of the sale being a part of a loving 'ohana. On the other hand, if you have ever ventured into an organic farmer's market, you may notice there is a cheery atmosphere of many people coming together for a common cause. These organic farmers could be considered an 'ohana because they share the vision of making the planet a better place by growing chemical free foods and enriching the health of the residents in their community.

The 'ohana of shoppers who buy the organic food at the Farmer's Market also get a feeling of satisfaction from contributing to the betterment of the world. Not only is there pleasure in buying healthy local organic produce to nourish their families, there is also fulfillment from contributing to another local 'brother or sister" in their 'ohana. There is an energy exchange between the buyer and seller that fuels the economy and the community.

Buying locally brings money into the pockets of your 'ohana. It is a win-win situation because no one is forgotten or left behind. When you purchase products or buy services that are rendered by local folks, then you are nourishing the lifeblood of your neighbors, friends and family. This giving to one another creates a flow of energy that can be felt with the heart. It is the pulse of love being exchanged with currency. An atmosphere of harmony can be cultivated through simple acts of supporting your local sellers instead of purchasing from large corporations or on-line. Since 'ohana means helping one another and caring for each other, I invite you to buy everything you need locally for one week and see how your heart expands as you connect with your community and experience the richness of 'ohana firsthand.

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