Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Na' aupono

Na' aupono: the Hawaiian word that means to nurture a deep sense of justice.

I am often surprised how incomplete the English language is when I learn a new word in another language. I search for a cognate or an equivalent. How often I have heard a foreign language speaker try to translate a concept from his language to mine, but he fumbles and comes up blank.

Understanding of the word justice  (the quality of being just, impartial, or fair), is universal, but the word for nurturing a deep sense of justice is missing from my word pool. Has anyone heard of such a word in English?

I can say that I try to teach justice, or that I taught my children justice, but even writing the words seems so superficial. And what exactly fits under the umbrella of justice?

The number one definition on my Webster dictionary phone app is: the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals.

A second definition is: the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments. So it seems the greatest teaching of justice would have happened in my own home within the relationships of my own children. Did I ensure they treated one another justly and were they judged and taught by the same rules? Was I fair? Did I merit the same punishments and rewards? Were consequences and rewards equal for my children's behaviors and actions?

I sure hope so, but I most clearly remember times when I made accommodations for a younger child that an older child didn't think was fair. The consequence of my injustice was an angry child who yelled, "I hate you."

We imperfect parents may be saved by what is the greatest teacher of justice--injustice. Often we can't understand what justice is until we recognize injustice. How often have we exclaimed, "That is so unfair!" Perhaps my teaching of a deep sense of justice improved after the sting of my child's retribution.

Some of us learn best from negative examples; the phrase, "If you fail to be a good example, then be a very good bad example." Knowing I often learn best from negative experiences has prompted me to share my mistakes--even if I look like a fool, it is worth saving someone else from foolishness.

To develop a deep sense of justice would take time and care. That is why the acquisition is paired with nurture. We nurture plants, animals, people, all with the intent of specific development, growth and health. A deep sense of justice requires consciousness, awareness, and desire. Foremost, it is an act of love--self love, love of humanity, and love for our own family stewardships.

Hence the need for fluidity, adaptation, and adoption of language. I have always needed the word na'aupono. Just as I needed the word kigatsuku. Kigatsuku: the recognition of need and the compulsion to act on that need without prompting from any other source but one's heart.

No comments: