Throughout our most recent trip to Hawaii I noticed Be Pono written almost everywhere. While this injunction doesn’t have a single literal translation from Hawaiian to English, it roughly means be righteous. The word pono evokes the sacredness with which the ancient Hawaiians viewed their role as collaborators and stewards of the land. It speaks of balance and goodness.
In fact, the state motto is ” Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono ” which translates to “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”
We’ve never been a “family theme” kind of family. And I say that with no disrespect to the families for whom that works. However when I suggest anything that even hints at such my older children bristle and scoff. Despite that, we have introduced Be Pono as our unofficial [and definitely-not-a] family theme.
We’ve had conversations as a family as to what Be Pono would look like in our lives.
Service. While making fun family memories is a priority of ours, we also want to better balance our activities. We hope to select more activities that will either improve us in some way and/or help someone else. I find it far too easy for our activities to be insular and self-indulgent.
Interpersonal. The words we speak and the tone we use move mountains in our relationships, for better or for worse. We have committed to try harder to see the good and speak the good. Complaining and criticizing are easy, and modeled for us everywhere. But it’s lazy and harmful. It takes effort to lean in. It requires deliberate, conscious decisions to focus on the positive or to try to learn something instead of being distracted by the one weird thing a person says or does.
Environmental. I left my beloved double-barreled composter in Texas when we moved. In the year we’ve lived up here, I have dithered and delayed replacing it. Which would be the best design for this environment? Where would be the best spot in our yard? In our Be Pono discussion I reminded myself that perfect is the enemy of done. While I dither my kitchen scraps are going to the landfill. That is not me doing right by Mother Earth. So I’m repenting or my casual attitude of late and am committing to being a better steward of the land and resources. On the topic of Be Pono, my children suggested we start a family garden. Stay tuned for our misadventures and all the ways we end up feeding the local wildlife instead of ourselves.
While summarizing our pono ideas I noticed we have laid the groundwork for our New Year’s resolutions. With that realization came this epiphany: being pono means always trying to be better.
How can you be pono in your life?
This post is part of our month-long exploration into Polynesian Christmas traditions and inspirations. See the whole collection of activities and discoveries here.