Coming to An Understanding – Hawaiian Style

29 Jul

lei1Recently, I was standing at the check-out stand at Trader Joe’s, talking to the really friendly clerk. He wished me a good day and I thanked him and added that I was on my way to court to do a mediation …something I really loved. That comment prompted him to tell me about Ho’o pono pono, which he said means “come to an understanding” in his native Hawaiian. I told him I was going to blog about it someday, so he wrote down the spelling for me.

I looked the term up online and found that it is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. It’s about “making things right” by clearing unwanted energy between parties. It has four parts, which very loosely translated into English are:

  • I’m sorry
  • Please forgive me
  • I love you
  • Thank-you

Everything I read said that the words have even more meaning in Hawaiian.

“I’m sorry” opens the door for atonement and creates an opportunity for healing.

Asking for forgiveness helps to release unresolved anger, blame, resentment, grief and anything else that is toxic from holding it inside.

Expressing love has a great healing power – a very positive energy.

And closing with a “thank-you” is a sign of gratitude for the opportunity to move on.

According to Wikipedia, the process of Ho’o pono pono begins with a prayer. A statement of the problem is made, and the transgression is discussed. Family members are expected to work out their problems and cooperate and not hold fast to fault. Everyone’s feelings are acknowledged and one or more periods of silence allow for reflection of the entanglement of emotions and injuries. Everyone “releases” each other … letting go. Then they close the event with a ceremonial feast.

I just love this idea and can’t thank the nice check-out clerk for telling me about it. The process has so many wonderful similarities to mediation but what’s really great about it … is that it’s already part of the culture to promote peacemaking within families.

Maybe they don’t need a mediator at all.





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