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Religion Over Culture? Essay

I love Hawai’i. I don’t love Hawai’i just for its everlasting sunshine, unique cuisine, or historical landmarks. My love for Hawai’i runs deep because of the vast diversity we have here. There is no place like Hawai’i—it is the melting pot of all cultural groups and religious affiliations who have found a home in the islands. It’s within this melting pot that the aloha spirit really shines through, really making it the perfect vacation destination. I am the epitome of that melting pot being that I have 14 nationalities. Although I come from many different backgrounds, I firmly believe and try to perpetuate my Hawaiian culture and my Christianity. Truly being a Hawaiian Christian is probably the hardest person to be because of its confliction between the belief in many gods in a Hawaiian sense and its cultural actions to believing in one God as a Christian.

But I consider myself a Christian Hawaiian because I have faith in my God and persistence in my culture. As a Hawaiian, I am all about perpetuation. Our culture had been almost lost once so I believe in keeping it alive forevermore. Some may argue that to be “Hawaiian” you must be of Hawaiian birth, speak ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i[1], or be a Hawaiian practitioner just as the kūpuna[2] of ancient Hawai’i. If a person is willing to genuinely respect, practice, and perpetuate a culture, it should be enough for them to be considered a part of said culture. In my Hawaiian Language class, it is my responsibility to start oli[3] and pule[4], which is proper protocol at Kamehameha Schools. With this responsibility, I essentially start the class. I say my prayers, but in the language of my people so that I honor both sides.

This privilege is one that not all schools can say that they do. For that, I am thankful to have been accepted to a school that allowed me to express both my culture and religion where they can both co-exist in harmony. If I went to a school where I couldn’t express either, I know I would be an entirely different person. It’s this expression of culture and religion that really allowed me to understand not only my values but others as well. With that in mind, to a college community, I can bring to the table my Christian and Hawaiian values. I am a Hawaiian, but with a western mind. I wouldn’t put my religion over my culture or vice versa because both mean a great deal to me as they shaped me to be the person I am today. He Hawai‘i au, mau a mau [5] and a Christian.


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