Mālama is pronounced [ma la ma].
For Hawaiians, to Mālama is to take care of with compassion and acceptance. It is understanding their innate responsibility to serve, to honor, and to protect that which needs them. Mālama is an act of unselfish giving that intrinsically recognizes each aspect of life as a part of a larger whole, a circle where each part is dependent on another.
In Hawaiian culture, it is understood that Mālama comes from the heart with warmth and true care. It is a benevolent way of living that elevates who a person is and what they can help nurture. It builds bonds between people, communities, and nature. It is a foundation of any Ohana (family) and is what guides the cultural value of taking care of the land (Mālama `āina).
Hawaiians practice Mālama in many ways. It can be how they show up in their Ohana to make sure an elderly relative has the food and support they need or a parent who may need support taking care of a child. It can be to come together to harvest Taro or other abundance from the land. It can show up as a commitment to keep the ocean clean or the farms free from chemicals and to restore native lands from erosion.
In Hawai’i there is also a strong commitment to take care of the youth and guide them through life’s challenges. They know the children are the future, so it is important to mālama them and teach them the values of aloha that will shape the society as a whole.
When we fully show up for our Kuleana in life, taking responsibility for what is ours, we help all things flow better. We also inspire others to show up for their own responsibilities. When we do this, we can collaborate to create good things in the world.
Compassion compels us to care for the world around us and the beings within it. When we allow our hearts to feel the empathy that naturally resides within us, we can do what needs to be done and then some.
When we honor all our relations, including our relationship with the land and the animals, we take our place in the circle of life. Humanity is dependent on the natural world to survive and to thrive. Taking care of the land, the animals and all life on this planet ensures our own health and wellbeing, as does mālama of the youth to ensure a bright future.
To serve others, it helps to tap into the abundance of life and be generous. The beauty of generosity is it uplifts the giver as well as the receiver. When the river of generosity is tapped by one, it naturally opens the flow of another, and then another.