After asking to conduct an interview with Congressional Candidate to Michigan’s 5th District Tom Whitmire the last thing I expected coming through the door was for him to hand me a hammer. 
“Aloha,” he said as he gave me a hug. “I don’t have time in life to sit”, said Tom
as we headed down the stairs into the basement. I remembered I had other intentions in mind coming through the door, but I was willing to see where this might go as I followed him down. Tom pointed me to some nails in the ceiling, handed me a piece of wood, and asked me to get the nails out of the rafters. Not knowing what the small piece of wood was for, I threw it down and began to pull with all my might at the first nail I spotted. Because of the angle in the rafter I could only bend it, but could not budge it. Noticing my struggles Tom came to help, and the first thing he did was to pick up the small piece of scrap wood he originally gave me. “You see this scrap wood can be placed between the rafter and the hammer”, he demonstrated. “It’s called a fulcrum and it helps with leverage, to lift the nail out of its place,” and he smiled as he easily removed the nail. The lesson did not end there for me but continued for the rest of the day and into the evening.
“Most people’s lives are like the hammer, and their problems are like the nail. As a CONGRESSMAN I am that fulcrum that comes between the problem and the solution. People just need to be shown a different perspective and then to be inspired to try it out. It usually works great”, said Tom. What I came to understand is that I could have pulled on that nail all day and got no progress. By receiving Tom’s consulting it took a matter of seconds to accomplish my task. Tom doesn’t have to be a Doctor of Carpentry to have the knowledge to immediately impact my life. Tom continued, “You see the hammer always has the ability to lift the nail but sometimes it just needs a little uplifting and support from the fulcrum. Just like I give people a little uplifting and support in as their representative in congress. I’m not having you pull nails just because I need the help you see. There is a lesson in everything I do,” as he looked me right in the face with his blue eyes. I tried to summarize Tom’s theory, “So you are telling me that the people of this country already posses the tools needed to thrive?” “You got it,” he finished, “I just give them the advantage of showing them when to bring them out and how to properly use them.” As we finished removing the last of the nails I could not get this theory out of my mind. Did this analogy come naturaly to Tom or did he set me up. Exhausted from all the work, I was willing to put off my own motives and committed myself to finding out.
Tom was helping to replace a drop ceiling in the basement to its natural look and with the nails and support boards all gone it was obvious we needed to get paint to cover the old wood. “Why don’t you join me on a trip to the bank and then Home Depot”, Tom suggested as he grabbed his keys.

Shortly after his story we arrived just down the block at his bank. Pulling up to the drive-through-teller window a nice voice came over the speaker immediately, “Well Aloha Tom, we haven’t seen you in over a week. How is your campaign going?” Grinning, because I think Tom could sense that I was shocked by this personal welcome, “Aloha, it is going outstanding. Thank you for taking the time to ask.” The teller asked what she could do for him and he replied, “I could use two-hundred in cash. Thank You”. Without filling out any paper work, or handing her anything the next thing I knew he was counting his money and we were on our way. I told Tom that I didn’t think that sort of stuff happened anymore these days. “Oh, I’ve been coming here for years. I’m sure they do that for everyone,” he modestly responded. I’m pretty sure they only do that for you Tom, I said to myself. Does everyone Tom meet give him this respect? I was going to find out, I thought, as we turned the corner.

It didn’t take us long to find the paint and get to the checkout counter. “How are you doing today,” asked the nice young girl behind the register. I mumbled fine, but Tom bellowed for all to hear, “Aloha, I’m Outstanding! Thank you for taking the time to ask.” Well she just lit up with a smile. “So are you two painters,” she asked? Tom quickly replied, “Nope, I’m the republican candidate for congress in this area.” “I could tell there was something different about you as soon as you walked up,” she told him. I grabbed the paint while Tom said good-by, “ALOHA”, and we headed back towards the exit. “Aloha,” I heard again, but this time it was coming from a small little girl’s voice. I quickly connected that a mother and her small child were behind us in line. She must have heard Tom say Aloha, and now she was bellowing it out to engage the other customers around her. Putting the paint buckets in the truck I commented to Tom that it is just amazing to see people’s reaction to just the way he lives his life. People just seem to light up when he says Aloha and I asked him to tell me more. Tom began to enlighten me finally with his words and not his actions, “You see, everyday that you wake up and you don’t see your name in the obituaries, you know it’s going to be a good day. If it is a good day, why not go ahead and make it an Outstanding Day”?

It was at this point that I had to ask about the ALOHA. “Aloha does not mean hello or good bye. It is actually a spiritual blessing that the Hawaiian people say when they first see people or as they leave their presence. It has simply been mistranslated through time and culture. It actually means, the intelligence in which we meet life.” That is very beautiful I told him. He quoted Carl Yung, “When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change. Now that you change the way you look at the word aloha, it will change the way you look at it as we go through the day.” I picked that up doing a semester of college in Hawaii and it just seemed to stick. Now when I don’t say Aloha people ask me what’s wrong. I guess it is my tag line and I love it. Aloha!

To be Continued... Updated This on