There’s a Law in Hawaii That Says You Have to Be Nice to People

Oct 20, 2018

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Telling someone he or she “must think and emote good feelings to others” might sound like the kind of truism a SoulCycle instructor would say at the end of class. But it is, in fact, an actual law in Hawaii. It’s called the “Aloha Spirit” law, and it’s encoded in the Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 5-7.5.

“The Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart within each person,” the law declares. “It brings each person to the Self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force, Aloha, the following unuhi laulâ loa (free translation) may be used.”

  • Akahai, meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;
  • Lôkahi, meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
  • Olu`olu, meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
  • Ha`aha`a, meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
  • Ahonui, meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance. (HI Rev Stat § 5-7.5, 2013)

In layman’s terms, be nice or leave.

Seeing as how the Hawaiian archipelago comprises some of the most remote islands in the world — more than 2,900 miles from the nearest continent — it makes sense that a concept such as “aloha” came about. For decades, Hawaiians had to get along with each other because there was simply nowhere else to go. The law became official in 1986, but it’s ingrained in the culture there.

According to the BBC, “the consequences are real” if you don’t act with Aloha Spirit. It’s symbolic for the most part, but the people of the island take it as words to live by.

And Jeremiah Felsen, owner of Kauai Hiking Tours, said it’s more of a way to “preserve [the] Hawaiian culture of friendliness and openness and have it on record for everyone to know,” and that the law is not actually enforced.

So during your next trip to the Aloha State, you’ll know that the word is more than just a simple “hello” and “goodbye.”

Featured photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash.

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