Most travelers to exotic island destinations think of the warm tropical climate, friendly people and sipping cocktails under the coconut tree as their perfect idea of a vacation. But look a bit deeper and these ancient cultures can teach tourists something that’s not in the travel brochure and free – respect. Like a lesson in humanity, the Western family can learn respect, happiness and a different view of the world from foreign cultures. In the South Pacific islands, Fiji has remained isolated from the rest of the developing world for centuries, thanks to its geographical location and reputation as one of the fiercest cannibal islands in the world. Early Spanish, English and American explorers encountered a native race that was too primitive to tame and too absorbed by their tribal traditions to fully embrace the concept of Westernization – and thank God for that!
Compared to most Western countries, native Fijians live a much simpler lifestyle without the commercialism, consumerism and capitalistic greed that has so engrossed the rest of the world. They are one of the few native civilizations in the world that own the majority of their land (think Hawaii!) and their traditional beliefs, laws and culture have largely remained intact for future generations. Young Fijians grow up learning a respect of culture, respect of their elders and a respect of their self worth, long before they learn English. Their land ownership means that many do not have to worry about a home mortgage, bank loans or paying off credit cards for the rest of their lives. And food, natural wild food, is in abundance in the sea, on the land and hanging from every tree. One of their favorite sayings is: “Money is our slave, not our master!” Fijians are technically poor compared to their Western counterparts but they don’t need money to survive. There’s no need for Social Security, and their sense of community and unequivocal sharing means that the more fortunate go out of their way to look after the needy.
The children grow up with a sense of respect, compassion and kindness that is instilled into them from birth; strict discipline starts at home and is reinforced again at school. Compare this to the marshmallow generation of Y’s and Z’s who learn very early how to control their parents, sulking and screaming to get their way. Fijians raise their children the old fashioned way. They grow up appreciating the beauty of their surroundings, the beauty of their culture, and the beauty in themselves, thanks to a spirit of family and the abundance of love and attention they receive in the village. With electricity and technology at a premium, they are not subjected to the same bombardment and brain washing of commercial television marketing to buy the latest fad or eat the latest processed foods. And if you think your young children are completely out of control and refuse to do what they are told, let them spend some time with a Fijian nanny. It’s amusing to watch how, when the boundaries and respect are put in place, how quickly a naughty child toes the line. They eventually learn that all the crying and manipulating in the world won’t work on a Fijian, so they give up and calmly go with the flow.
So if you’re planning to holiday in the Fiji islands, leave the attitude and bad manners at home and embrace how another culture lives. Fiji is one of those rare holiday destinations that showcases how the the world used to be, or probably how it should be.