Hawai’i is an amazing place. Though it is a state of the Union (suck it, birthers!) , it has some unique aspects. Hawai’i used to be a monarchy — until we came along and usurped the lawful government. It is the only state with 2 royal palaces: I’olani Palace in Honolulu and the Hulihe’e Palace in Kona Town. It also has a culture that is miles apart from the rest of America, literally and figuratively. One of the things that sets it apart is the Aloha Spirit.
It’s not just nice, it’s the Law
The Aloha Spirit is more than just a marketing tool to draw tourists. It is actually set down in Hawaiian law. It was added to the Hawai’i Revised Statutes in 1986 and is known as The Aloha Spirit Law. This law states that all citizens and government officials are “obligated by law to conduct themselves in accordance” with it. Not just at work but all the time. Visitors are also expected to conduct themselves according to the Aloha Spirit Law.
“Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.
“Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.
“Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.
“Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.
Representative Brower has no Aloha Spirit for the homeless
But one Hawaiian state representative turned his back on the Aloha Spirit. Representative Tom Brower (D – Ala Moana) was, until this Tuesday, taking a sledgehammer to shopping carts. Why? Because homeless people use them to store their meager belongings. Representative Brower took his sledgehammer to about 30 shopping carts during his crusade, also returning some carts to their stores. When the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on Representative Brower’s campaign against the homeless, most people were outraged.
These tactics add to the already poor reputation Hawai’i has for how it treats the homeless. This past summer, the legislature voted to buy one-way plane tickets back to the mainland for some of them. I wonder if all the people who support these measures realize that they are violating state law? Or maybe they just don’t care. Perhaps Representative Brower and his buddies should all be arrested and fined. That money could go to help the homeless. Wouldn’t that be perfect karma?
Bower says he’s hanging up his hammer but not because of the bad publicity
Representative Brower told the Star-Advertiser Tuesday that he was hanging up his hammer because the point he was trying to make “has been made.” He swears that the bad publicity had nothing to do with it. Yeah, right.
“I’m not trying to attack the homeless,” Brower said. “I’m trying to attack the issue of cleanliness, but some people interpreted as an attack on the homeless. I’d like to thank everyone who has commented by email or telephone. I’ve listened to all of those comments. Some supported what I did and some did not, but I really appreciate their thoughts.”
I bet he did. He didn’t stop with carts, either. He would yell at homeless people he saw sleeping during the day. He said he wouldn’t bother anyone if they were sleeping at night, but in the daytime he would yell at them to “get your ass moving!” Yeah, that will definitely help. Representative Brower didn’t say if he would continue this strategy.
Hawai’i has the highest rate of homelessness in the entire country. Considering the climate, that’s not surprising. But bashing their belongings is not the way to deal with it. It took public shaming to get Representative Brower to lay off with the sledgehammer. What will it take to get lawmakers to think about jobs?