Proverb – Oahu, HI

“Hawaiian Proverb”

`A`ohe lokomaika`i i nele i ke pâna`i.

“No kind deed has ever lacked its reward”

BJ first learned this proverb when he was in elementary school while living on the island of Oahu. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and has lived on the island of Oahu for seventeen years. His father is second-generation Japanese-Hawaiian and his mother is from Hollywood, California.

BJ says that the proverb translates in English to say: “No kind deed has ever lacked its reward.” He says that he learned this proverb as a young child and thinks that it was taught to all the students at his school because they were responsible for learning Hawaiian and because it is a proverb that well-describes the idealized Hawaiian attitude. He says that Hawaiians are generally very generous people who are known to be welcoming and willing to help out others. He says his father often quoted this proverb when he wanted him to help his younger brother who has Downe’s syndrome.

A proverb is usually intended to be a short representation of a value or moral of a culture or community group. In this case, the group is the Hawaiian people as a whole, and the value is placed on generosity and willingness to serve. It seems interesting that people always need to be reassured of the personal benefit they will receive when doing something. While this proverb encourages people to be generous and to commit kind actions towards one another, it also shows the way in which people are manipulated into acting a certain way because of an expected or promised outcome. It makes one wonder whether or not generosity is truly valued, if it would not be practiced without the promise of a reward. Is there anyone who lives there who values generosity for its own sake- not for the sake of receiving a reward in return. This is not a bias against Hawaiians specifically, but an indictment of society everywhere. It seems that people always need to have positive reinforcement to do the things that are right. It leaves one wondering whether morals are practiced only in efforts of personal gain or if morals are valued for their own sake.