On January 17, 1893, just 124 years ago, pro-American forces overthrew the legitimate royal government of the internationally-recognized Hawaiian nation. A provisionist government was established with Sanford B. Dole as president. Both Dole and Lili`uokalani were born and raised in the islands and attended the same schools: Dole of missionary heritage and Lili`uokalani of Hawaiian heritage.
It’s sad to note that they were both taught Christian principles and both claimed to abide and live by those principles. Yet if we were to evaluate their actions, one seems to be motivated by the desire for wealth and power rather than love and kind intentions for one’s neighbor.
In the Gospels Jesus is asked what does one have to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked in return, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” The person answered, “You shall love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as your-self.” Jesus replied, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But the one asking the question, wanting to justify himself, asked, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Who is my neighbor? It is a question we must continually ask. In the day of Sanford B. Dole, Hawaiians were looked down on as being lazy; Hawaiians lived in a land of plenty prior to contact. Life for Hawaiians was looked on as easy by New Englanders, who instead grew up in a very cold environment where life was hard and to provide for one’s family took continuous work. Comparatively, Hawaii was a paradise: food was plentiful, both from the ground and sea. New Englanders, who grew up under a culture that celebrated hard work and determination, saw the Hawaiians and their culture as inferior and a product to be taken advantage of.
It’s easy to look back on history and draw conclusions of right and wrong. But in the present, faced with so many mitigating circumstances and emotions, it’s not so easy to draw conclusions. But the question and answer are still the same. Who is my neighbor? If I choose to live righteously, then I must ask: do my actions reflect my love of God and love of neighbor?
We live in a world that demands us to live out our convictions in everyday life. That can be stated in reverse as well. Our everyday life actions reveal our true convictions. The question will be: how will future generations judge our everyday actions? Will they be seen as those that reflect the teachings of Jesus, or will they be seen as actions that defend our positions of power and prestige?
Who’s your neighbor? Catholic, Christian, Jew, Gentile, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Mormon, Atheist, spiritual but not religious…???
Seeking to live as Jesus did, loving God and my neighbor. . .