Tonga (A Sharing Culture)

A succinct expression of Tongan values.

By Michael Hassett - Peace Corps Volunteer, Tonga (2012- 2014)

There’s an island kingdom far across the sea,

Which is bathed in sun, covered in palm trees.

Over a hundred-seventy islands, inhabited are just a few,

Dots spattered across the map, oases in a briny blue.

A mighty race abides here, living both happy and free,

Thriving off the land and surviving off the sea.

A land poor in resources, but a kingdom rich in soul,

They value relationships over mahogany and gold.

Femolimoli’i: “Everyone takes a share,”

Of work food and money; debt time and prayer.

A smiling face and helpful hand, both easy to find.

Morals, duty, and success are deeply intertwined.

An island land so small and poor yet living happily,

Where neighbors love each other the same as family.

So why is a land like ours, so rich and powerful,

Filled with lifeless people, so selfish and so cruel?

Where family is a burden, where time is running out?

Our hearts are filled with greed, our minds filled with doubt.

Let’s look to our Tongan cousins; let’s heed their kind advice:

It’s best to love each other and to live a giving life.

This poem was entered in the returned Volunteer category for the 2015 Peace Corps Poetry Contest. The contest received more than 1,000 submissions, representing over 50 years of Peace Corps service in more than 100 countries.

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