Strangers Among Us
I live near a wonderful large natural park which is quite unusual as it is tucked away in the suburbs. I spend a lot of time there. because it's a pleasant place to visit. As I walk through the park, I may make brief eye contact with people I pass, smile and sometimes say good afternoon or even strike up a brief conversation if that seems appropriate. Oftentimes I will do this when walking around the city where I live or places I visit as well.
Someone whom I was with recently asked me why I did that, as no one really talks to strangers anymore and wouldn't I be potentially endangering myself by interacting with strangers? Or maybe I would appear as a threat to others. The person was right that where I live, people generally do not interact with strangers as much as perhaps used to be the case. These comments got me thinking about this issue, so I offer some thoughts from a Huna perspective.
It's a Scary World Out There Isn't It?
There is also the notion of the mysterious and dangerous stranger--the unknown quantity. Difference and the unknown can sometimes be the basis for fearful beliefs. It's interesting to consider just how much we actually do have in common with other human beings. It's amazing to think we are all here on this planet in this solar system at this time. I think there is far more commonality than difference that we can focus on.
Just for a moment, shift perspective and imagine what it's like when you are a stranger in someone else's eyes. Would you feel justified in being perceived as potentially dangerous and someone to be avoided? An all out ban on speaking to people who are not already known to you limits your world considerably, and taken to the absurd extreme means we would never talk to anyone we didn't already know!
Researchers have coined a term, 'fleeting intimacy', to refer to a quick interaction with a stranger which can be emotionally rewarding and meaningful. I can recall many an occasion when an interaction with a stranger has led to an interesting insight, a fascinating conversation, new connections, assistance; a pleasant outcome and even a longer-term friendship.
Aloha: The Love Connection
Two fundamental human urges are: to connect with people, places and things through the underlying motivation of love; and to be in harmony. Denial of the expression of these natural urges is often a result of the beliefs we hold about ourselves and others. Regularly resisting these drives can increase tension and reduce effectiveness and well-being.
Connecting with strangers through sharing a greeting, a smile or small talk increases that sense of connection for all parties. These interactions provide an opportunity to give to others and share our time, attention, understanding, warmth and assistance, for example.
In addition, on many occasions, interactions with strangers may involve giving compliments. This is a form of blessing which can have immense benefits both to the giver and the receiver. The benefits accrue and others benefit from the interaction with you, which of course makes you feel even better.
Kala: The Esoteric Connection
Manawa: Noticing the Present Moment
Another benefit that has been acknowledged is that when we interact with someone we don't know, it's not uncommon to adopt a friendly disposition and come across in a positive way. This is interesting as it can help enhance our own mood. So, if you had been feeling sad or anxious prior to an interaction, the very act of putting on a positive front to a stranger can help you change your actual state to a more positive one. Acting 'as if' can provide a precursor to what we actually become and so can be a great state changer.
Ike: New Perspectives
Mana: Developing Confidence
Pono: Flexibility and Effectiveness
Makia: Focussed Attention
Practicality and Context
Intention and expectation
As for expectations, I expect the best to happen in whatever way it will happen. It's as simple as that. I frame each interaction as a blessing so whatever the reaction, I silently wish the other person to have a great day. Their Ku is free to accept that blessing or ignore it and either way that's just fine.
You might be thinking 'what if they don't react in the way that you expect?'. The answer is simple: don't have any expectations about a specific reaction. Also, if you adopt the belief that you give other people permission to act in whatever way they wish, you won't have expectations that won't be met and you won't face disappointment.
A Lesson from the Islands
This is the Spirit of Aloha at work. Some postulate that the Aloha Spirit developed in the islands because of how remote they were and how people needed to get along in order to survive. Geographic isolation may not be such an issue in many other locales today, however, the sentiment of connecting to be more effective in your environment and help make the world a better place applies regardless of location so there is a lot we can learn from the Hawaiian culture in this respect. Ancient Hawaiians assumed friendliness from strangers. After the first friendly greeting, though, they observed the stranger's behavior and acted accordingly. This is what happened with Captain Cook. Generosity and friendship at first, disappointment and self-protection when he broke the bonds of friendship.
What kind of world do you want to live in?
Pete Dalton ©2018
Pete Dalton is an Alakai of Huna International living in the UK. For more information on his work visit his website www.urbanhuna.org