Fighting Injustice at the Root


by Eric Kunimoto
Washington, D.C.

Soon after my parents moved from Japan to America, my mom became a victim of a violent crime. As a result, I became resentful, angry and impulsive. My mother, on the other hand, earnestly participated in SGI activities and doubled down on her belief in humanity. I felt my mom was the strongest woman in the world.

My parents worked really hard to give me the life I had and, in order to give back to them, I felt I needed to do something in dramatic fashion. So, I thought, What’s more prestigious, powerful and influential than becoming a lawyer?

I passed the Maryland and Washington, D.C., bar exams and practiced commercial real estate law as a means to transform America’s cities. Instead, I found myself working on multimillion-dollar commercial projects with no real sense of purpose or connection between the work I was doing and how I really wanted to connect with people and transform society. That’s when I decided to become a police officer.

What influenced my decision the most was my mother’s ability to transform her painful experience into belief in the power of humanity. I felt that there needed to be someone who could exemplify that spirit in law enforcement.

After making a career transition, I discovered that the daily reality of a police officer is not easy. You often see the darkest parts of humanity and the lowest states of life. I really felt that, more than anything else, people are really suffering.

Having a mentor in Daisaku Ikeda is the greatest treasure of my life, because I can always look to an example of how to live life with courage, compassion and wisdom. If I didn’t have that, it would be so easy to merely see criminals as criminals; it’s more complex than that. I clearly see people battling the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness. We must attack the problem at the root by changing the negative impulses in our own hearts.

With this spirit, I did my best as a patrolman to connect with the people on my beat and build a sense of community and trust. Early this year, we received an award from the chief of police for decreasing violent crimes on my beat by 40 percent. Society really needs and is yearning for people to stand up in the face of injustice, starting with the person in front of them.