Ramsay Taum, a speaker at numerous Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) events, talks about the importance of integrating Native Hawaiian cultural values in every aspect of our lives, including business and educational programs. Mentored and trained by respected kupuna (elders), Taum’s extensive background and experience in business, government and community service makes him a valuable asset in both public and private sectors. In 2013, he received the Distinguished Peacemaker Award in recognition of his long career advocating the spirit of aloha in Hawaii and around the world.
A Kamehameha Schools graduate, Taum attended the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, and earned a B.S. degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He is the founder and president of Life Enhancement Institute of the Pacific, and Director of External Relations & Community Partnerships at the University of Hawaii School of Travel Industry Management.
At a recent MEDB event, Taum discussed the importance of Hawaii’s sense of place: knowing where you are from, who you are, and where you are going. Using a lōkahi (unity) analogy, Lessons from the Reef, he described how each part of the reef works in harmony. “Often when we discuss diversity, the purpose is really to come together, in unity,” Taum explained. “Aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence, working in harmony.”
Taum added, “Aloha is a way of being, a way of behaving. Aloha is more than a greeting. It is the art and spirit of giving and receiving. It is to give and not expect anything in return, to receive and not forget to give back. It speaks of sustainability and reciprocity, rights and privileges, responsibilities and obligations. Our actions must express these ways of thinking with kindness and tenderness. Ha in the words aloha and mahalo is the breath that connects us all. Knowing that ha is the spirit of the air that we all share, we realize we are connected in the spirit of community among the people of Hawaii and the world. Thus, we give thanks for all our aloha blessings.”
Defining Hawaii as Ha (life-giving breath), wai (life-giving water), and i (supreme life-giver), connects us in the presence of divine breath where we are made whole in one community. When we agree to disagree, with aloha, we find that we are truly one people.