What does ‘lokahi’ mean?
Lokahi is a Hawaiian word. It means harmony and balance.
It’s not as simple as ‘Yin-Yang’. There might be many people or things that come together in a lokahi. Some might actually conflict.
But one might not defeat the other. Each thing can remain itself. They don’t need to become or think the same, or even find a consensus.
Creating something new
Some larger context – some urgent need – some natural system – or some greater, unifying love draws them into convergence. Pulled through opposition, even hostility, each one plays its part in creating something new.
Hawaiian chants speak of the volcanoes and their landscape in this way. The lava gnaws along the land, making it new and ‘beautiful’ in its own way.
Lava cools. The flames fade. Wind and water break down the lava rock. The cinders become grains; the grains soil. Birds overfly, hover, and stay. Seeds drop. Ferns cautiously stretch forth their fronds in a new landscape. New ground has been created; pushing the earth further into the sea.
Kaleidoscope of differences
No one plan – plenty of conflict – and yet it is a dynamic, creative process.
Hawaiians ancient and modern call for ‘lokahi’ amongst themselves too. ‘Everyone comes together – that’s lokahi,’ says an old-timer. For a harvest, a fishing expedition, to solve a family problem. We humans too work best, most creatively, when harmony is sought, through a kaleidoscope of differences.
The unity or harmony in ‘lokahi’ does not mean sameness. It recognises that we will always walk different paths, desire different ends, and contend for them. More courageously, it says we can come together nevertheless, to work for the good, the beautiful, the needful.
As humans of culture, religion, desire – there is no one thing that unites us. For we are not any one thing. Neither are our religions or cultures. We are emotions, ideas, beliefs, things we eat or cannot eat, needs, ways we dress or cannot, holidays and festivals, systems of thought, practices of prayer, ways of loving.
A true understanding of lokahi sees the variety of what each of us is, the spectrum of what we all are. Then it calls forth the responses we can make, the notes we can resonate on all these registers. To converge for creativity, joy, even survival – and leave us free to diverge on our own paths when love of freedom or truth call us apart.
Everyone comes together – that’s lokahi - says a Hawaiian old-timer