We are all Ekahi – We are all One
When I was living in Hawaii many years ago I was, for the first time in my life, introduced to people who recognized the importance of friends and family and intuitively understood the connections between the land, people, and all living things. In fact, when you listen to the messages from many indigenous people, there is a common thread and that thread is a connection between everything. Living on a small island in the middle of the south Pacific, you quickly realize why those with a connection to their indigenous ancestors understand the importance of relationships with all living things. Most of the indigenous people I have met in North America whether they were Polynesian, Navajo, Apache, Supai, Tlingit, Kootenai, Nootka, or the many others I have met, have often been taught that their ancestors survived only through a respect and understanding of the connection of everything.
Most of the ancestry of mainland North America is people of European ancestry. Waves of immigration started in the seventeenth century and continue today. While the countries of origin of the immigrants has changed, the fact remains that most of us are relatively new to North America. Evidence suggests that the first contact (Paleo-Indians) to mainland North America occurred approximately 40,000 years ago as a small number of brave explorers crossed the Bering Straight into Alaska. As the first people to settle in present-day North America, they survived only by understanding the balance and connection of living things to non-living things and to a spirit world. Later generations were taught these important lessons by elders. As a relative late-comer ( I am approximately fourth generation Canadian) to this land, I still feel the need to tread lightly and to try and learn from those who have connections to the earliest stewards of the land. Whether you are first generation North American, First Nations, or seventh generation North American, we all must understand our connection to each other and to everything around us.
Hawaii’s history of indigenous people may be more recent (first contact from Marquesas or Tahiti around 300 AD) but follows a similar path of indigenous people developing a relationship with the land for many centuries before contact with white European explorers. The largest ethnic group comprising the Hawaiian islands is Filipino, followed by Japanese, and then Polynesian. Regardless of ancestral background, I have found that the relatively short but colourful history of the people of Hawaii has seemed to create a warm, open spirit of people who care about the people they meet. Ekahi means “One” in Hawaiian. The understanding of the connection of everything and everybody with one energy is not uniquely Hawaiian but it is where my eyes were opened to this reality.
We live in an era of an obsessive need to classify, rank, judge, and separate. Our decisions are made on reductionism instead of wholism. When we start seeing that we are all ekahi, we can start seeing that there is no such thing as an independent action or an independent thought. We are all affected by each other. We may not agree with each other and we, at times, may not like each other but the fact is, we are all connected. If the idea of ekahi connection seems too esoteric, consider that the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy state that we are not making any new matter or energy, and we are not able to make it disappear – therefore, we are all part of the same energy and same matter since the beginning of time.
When we see that we are indeed ekahi (One) we can perhaps start to see that we should be treating each other, all living and non-living things with love and respect.