The Buddhist Response to Violence and Hatred
The following are responses from SGI-USA leaders in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, following the recent mass shootings there, as well as a determination from a new member who experienced the loss of 10 family members in the Sutherland Springs, Texas, shootings in 2017.
The District Is Where We Will “Transform This Troubled World”
by Laura Baggette
District women’s leader
Several months ago, a hate group organized a rally in our city. At the time, we united together as a district and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for everyone’s protection. Fortunately, only a handful of people showed up, and no violence ensued. Then, on Aug. 4, our community struggled to find meaning amid the mass shooting. Looking for inspiration, I picked up the August Living Buddhism and read SGI President Ikeda’s monthly lecture series. In it, he quoted second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda: “The Soka Gakkai will transform this troubled world we live in” (p. 52).
I truly feel that the district is the key to making this happen. I recently got together with one of our youth, who was moved by studying President Ikeda’s guidance about the importance of having good friends. I’m determined to make our district discussion meetings a place where people, especially youth, feel comfortable, appreciated and respected. If we can create that kind of atmosphere, people will open up about the issues they’re facing, and, together, as a district, we can find the answers. Many people don’t even know that such gatherings exist. That’s why it’s so important to reach out to others and introduce them to the SGI community. With our Buddhist practice, there’s no way we can lose.
Our Mission for Peace Will Never Go Away!
by JoCheryl Holcombe
Santa Monica, Calif.
I lost 10 family members in the mass shooting at Sutherland Springs, Texas, Baptist Church in 2017. Among those who perished were my brother, who was leading the service that day, his wife and many of their family members, including children and grandchildren. My heart cracked wide open in sorrow, but at the same time, I discovered that a world united in compassion could heal the heart of a person they never met. That day, I knew it had to be about love, and that people must not linger in sadness or sorrow and especially not focus on the horror.
I began attending SGI-USA district meetings with a friend, who invited me early this year. As I healed, my new friends encouraged me and lifted my heart with happiness. There is a sense of community, belonging and love in the district, and I celebrated receiving the Gohonzon on July 16.
The recent shootings are hard to understand. What earthly suffering could make someone feel so bad that they would commit such awful acts? I understand that the Mystic Law grants us both power and responsibility, knowing that one person’s compassionate actions will create a ripple effect of happiness that expands into eternity.
The tears will pass, but our mission for peace will NEVER go away! The outcome of any negative event can always be transformed into something positive. May nothing like this EVER happen again to anyone! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
El Paso’s Path of Peace
by Takeo Uga
Chapter men’s leader
El Paso, Texas
We were shocked to learn about the shooting on Aug. 3. The El Paso Chapter and district leaders reached out to every person on our membership list to make sure they were safe. Through this effort, we reconnected with many members who haven’t come out to meetings in a very long time. They were very appreciative to hear from us.
The next day, we had our kosen-rufu gongyo meeting, where members expressed concerns that they didn’t even feel safe to leave their homes. We solidified our unity and determination to spread widely our humanistic philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism in El Paso, so that regardless of our differences, everyone is respected.
Within two weeks of the incident, El Paso Chapter helped 11 people receive the Gohonzon. And, together, we will continue to take one more step to advance kosen-rufu here, just as SGI President Ikeda encouraged us to do in his poem “To the Great Pioneers of Kosen-rufu of El Paso”:
your lovely name
has the meaning of “path”
Birds have a path in the sky
fish have a path in the sea
And though invisible to the eye
there exists without a doubt
an unsurpassed path for human beings
throughout three existences
(My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 485).