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28 April 2013

Ho'oponopono

I learned a new expression yesterday. Ho'oponopono. It means "It is also my fault. Please forgive me."

Ho'oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness (Wikipedia). Other South Pacific cultures have similar forgiveness practices. 

I was taken aback when I read that. It's just that it's a concept we don't know or practise here in North America. We're more a "It's all your fault" society. I hope it won't be seen as co-opting a tradition from another culture (that's the furthest thing from my mind), but I'd like Ho'oponopono to become part of my worldview. 

It got me thinking a couple of things. First, I wonder if being able to say "Climate change is also my fault. Please forgive me" would be healing and helpful for the generation of older, mainly Caucasian, folks who, frankly, created the problem. I often think that the older generation stays in denial because it's too hard for them to admit that their luck and timing, their blessed lifestyles, their accumulation of wealth f*cked up the atmosphere.

Next, I started wondering how many other "solutions" to the climate crisis might exist in cultures and languages we know nothing about and have no exposure to. Here's an example. 

"Bahala na" ("I don't care what happens in the future, as long as I survive now") is a Filippino expression that describes an attitude common far beyond that country's borders.

Of course, it doesn't help that our culture affords no legal or economic rights to future generations. Who cares about them (indeed, what have they ever done for me?) as long as my life is comfortable today.

I think that learning that expression helped me become more conscious of my responsibilities to the future, to my legacy (which I don't want to create by default).

So, if you know of an expression or a concept in another language or culture that might give us English speakers some guidance in the movement to safeguard the future from the climate emergency, please share it. We never know what might catch on and be quite helpful in this fight.


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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on compassion as a solution to the climate change emergency?