Thank you for your editorial in the Sunday Samoan titled “Has Samoa developed a denial mentality that makes us accept certain things as normal?”
Personally, I don’t see Samoa as an aspirational society.
If you were to as a bunch of 10 year old Aussie kids what they want to be when they grow up, you will get all sorts of answers like doctor, lawyer, fireman, astronaut, prime minister or simply what their dad does.
Ask the same question of Samoan kids and you will get blank looks.
Now this is not a criticism, but an observation.
Samoan kids grow up wanting and needing to serve their family, right throughout their lives, somewhat dependent on these close family ties as an essential support mechanism, both financially and emotionally.
Westerners are more independent with many of us leaving home and the family financial support to stand on our own two feet at the first opportunity after educational pursuits are over. Further financial support from family usually only comes in lump sums at 21st or wedding occasions, or when in truly desperate need.
This is one difference between cultures that explains many palagi and their reluctance to support their Samoan half of the family with fa’alavelave. It is not usual in their way of life.
Who is to say which approach is best, busting your butt to make enough to survive on your own in an expensive big city or cruising along in the village with the support of the Aiga, both here and overseas, doing whatever is needed to pull your weight in that environment?
Due to lifestyle, many westerners suffer high blood pressure and other stress related illnesses, while Samoans have the challenges of morbid obesity, diabetes and other related issues because of poor nutrition and a more sedentary lifestyle.
Either way, I think the best balance would be a mix of both lifestyles, with the personal development ethic of the western existence melded into the family and community ethics of the islanders, but with far less fa’alavelave and more time to enjoy life in beautiful Samoa!!!