Heroes

They survived 1,000 years in the middle of the Pacific. And then we arrived.

It's a 1,000-year-old idea we may finally be ready to understand.

They survived 1,000 years in the middle of the Pacific. And then we arrived.

There's a place that's got more of everything there is on Earth.

Or there was until Westerners arrived.

It's called the Hawaiian Islands.

Just about any life-form on the planet could find its "sweet spot" there.

Dr. Sam Ohu Gon III, speaking as Senior Scientist and Cultural Advisor to The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, explains that there's something really important to learn about what happened when outsiders came in.

When Westerners arrived 300 years ago, there were hundreds of thousands of Hawaiians already having lived on these islands for a millennia, on their own, in the middle of the ocean.


The Hawaiians lived lightly off the islands whose resources they depended on. They used only about 15% of it, and, even so, they were still completely self-sufficient, with nothing they needed from the outside world.

The Hawaiians' belief system was the key.

They saw the islands as having different realms.

Wao kanaka are the lowlands along the shores where people lived. It's where they grew and caught the food they needed.

Wao akua was the uplands above wao kanaka. It was an intensely sacred place where humans had no role in the native forests or the waters that flowed out of it. It's where their ancestor gods, aumakua, lived.

Theirs was a system based on love, not fear.

The Hawaiians believed aumakua could take the form of individual plants and animals, or kinolau. So all the life in wao akua wasn't just plants and animals. It was literally family.

“When your gods are also your family and the elements of nature are their physical presence, your relationship with nature is transformed." — Sam Ohu Gon III

Hawaiians considered themselves actual kin to nature, a much richer way of thinking than viewing yourself of just a consumer.

They believed in aloha, which isn't just “hello" and “goodbye," as it often seems. It's actually the word for empathetic compassion, and it extends beyond the people you care about, to āina, the place you live. Together, aloha āina is a deep appreciation of and love for the features of your land. You're not whole without your place, and its fate is your fate.

To take from the land without thinking of what you're doing to it would be, as Gon says, “a direct and conscious prostitution of not only a family member, but an elder. And what right-thinking person would do that?"

And then Western civilization landed on Hawaii's shores.

A different idea came along with them. Nature to them was a set of resources to be exploited by property owners and purchased by human consumers. The human footprint on Hawaii expanded to 85%, and many of the islands' natural resources were destroyed or used-up. This shows how things changed.

And now the traditional Hawaiian self-reliance is gone.

Modern Hawaiians are now so dependent on imports that if they stopped, it's estimated there'd be famine in just three weeks.

This story should change our attitude.

In it may be the key to us stepping back from the environmental ledge.

Our global climate challenges come from losing sight of our relationship to the ground we stand on, the air we breathe, and seas we sail. By combining aloha āina with modern technology, there's a chance we can set things right. Maybe "aloha āina" isn't just a saying, but instead a practical formula for how we survive on our own little island out in the middle of the ocean of space.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

Keep Reading Show less