The rainbow is the official symbol of Hawai’i, and here it is on my brand new license plates. I like the ZAZ part — the last California plate I had included the letters VAK, which always made me think of a vacuum cleaner. Yesterday I spent three hours at the motor vehicle department, registering the car and getting new plates, but also getting a Hawai’ian driver’s license and registering to vote. I am now, officially, a citizen of the Great State of Hawai’i, and pleased to be so.
About the “Aloha State” motto: just as the word “shalom” means a number of things, the word “aloha” can mean a tremendous number of things, depending on usage: love, affection, and the object of those emotions; compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness, sentiment, grace, charity, kind, compassionate charitable, to show kindness, pity. Hawai’ians refer to the Spirit of Aloha, meaning a spirit of courtesy, sharing, and mutual respect. (A footnote: my sister’s partner, Burny, slowed his truck down to let someone merge ahead of him, but the other driver (probably a tourist) just froze. “Not ready to accept,” Burny said, shaking his head, “the Spirit of Aloha.”)
Even used as a greeting, Aloha has shades of meaning:
~ Aloha ʻoe, may you be loved or greeted, greetings (to one person).
~ Aloha kāua, may there be friendship or love between us, greetings (to one person); ~ ~ ~ Aloha kākou, same as above, but to more than one person.
~ Ke aloha nō! Aloha! Greetings! (The nō may be prolonged for emphasis.)
Here’s an interesting essay on The Deeper Meaning of Aloha if you want to read more about it.