The Soka Gakkai Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Minoru Harada
SOKA GAKKAI PRESIDENT
TOKYO, April 10—Japan, where until recently we hoped that we would contain the spread of COVID-19, has now entered into a state of emergency, facing a surge in the number of confirmed cases and redoubling its efforts to save precious lives.
In these most difficult times, on behalf of the Soka Gakkai, I would like to express our most sincere condolences and deep sympathy to all victims, their families and loved ones, and show heartfelt gratitude and respect to all health workers and those fighting on the front lines throughout the globe.
As the COVID-19 pandemic devastates lives and economies globally, Soka Gakkai organizations around the world continue to keep their centers closed and have canceled faith activities to help stop the spread of the virus. Our members, however, continue their Buddhist practice in their own homes, offering sincere prayers for the sake of all those affected and impacted.
We are determined that our hopeful, revitalizing philosophy of “changing poison into medicine,” which teaches that even the darkest and most desperate of times can contain the seeds of new learning and possibility, will help strengthen humanity’s indomitable network of global citizens. We join our mentor, Ikeda Sensei, in praying wholeheartedly “for the quickest possible end to this threat and a return to normality and safety” (April 3 World Tribune, p. 3).
This is an unprecedented time in history where feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and loneliness can either exacerbate divisiveness or bring a deeper sense of community. It is deeply inspiring to see how people are showing resilience, compassion and solidarity in this most difficult period.
Members of the Soka Gakkai around the world continue to encourage one another and engage in dialogues with their families and friends, thanks to advances in technology. They have also launched various initiatives in their communities to deepen understanding of the importance of handwashing, wearing masks and social distancing.
Each Soka Gakkai organization is responding to the best of its ability, depending on its size and the situation in that country or territory. At the organizational level, SGI-USA has donated masks to hospitals facing shortages of medical supplies, while Soka Gakkai Italy and Soka Gakkai Malaysia, to name just two, have donated funds toward fighting COVID-19 in their respective countries. In Japan, before the state of emergency was declared, the youth members had launched the Stay Home project on Twitter to encourage young people to stay home and seek out and share correct information on how the novel coronavirus spreads.
Each of us can make a difference by continuing to follow our respective governments’ health measures and practicing social distancing. With the influx of information we consume, it is crucial that we act responsibly based on verified and accurate sources.
Finally, in the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, our common hope for humanity’s future, let us ensure that absolutely no one is left behind in our response to this global pandemic and its aftermath, which will be felt in so many ways in the months and years ahead.
This message was adapted from sgi.org.