Justice Through Human Revolution
Practicing since 2016
I am half white, half Polynesian, and my last name is Chinese. Growing up in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, I was often bullied at school and called names for looking different from everyone else.
As I grew older and began developing my own political and social views, I could see that they stood in opposition to my parents’ outlook on the world. I witnessed my parents make racially derogatory remarks and, through a series of negative interactions, I started distancing myself from them. At school, in my neighborhood and at home, I felt helpless, invisible, rejected and unwanted.
In 2012, when I learned about the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager, I couldn’t help but feel pain and rage. I always had a deep desire to fight for justice and began protesting his violent death. This became my platform to try and use the anger in my heart to speak out against injustice.
I tried to share my views on social justice with my family members, but our conversations would often turn into fights. I couldn’t understand why they did not see my point of view, and my response was often defensive, leading to further estrangement from my family.
They are what’s wrong with the world, I thought. They need to change. As I continued to stand up for social justice, I felt like nothing was changing, both within my own life and in society. No one was listening to each other. I felt a deeper schism forming with my own family, and I could see the same thing happening in the world around me.
My lowest point came in March 2016, when I felt so powerless and hopeless that I tried to take my own life, convinced that I was worthless. It was around this time when I encountered Buddhism.
When I joined the SGI, I felt belonging for the first time. I took on leadership within the organization and discovered that I had found the greatest way to defend the inherent dignity of human life by participating in home visits as a young men’s leader.
Through engaging other young men of various backgrounds and doing my best to listen to and encourage them, my perspective broadened, and I started to understand that universal human emotions such as pain and anger can be a powerful impetus for both good and evil, no matter what side you’re on. By reading The New Human Revolution and studying the example of Ikeda Sensei, I was convinced that fighting in the SGI to advance kosen-rufu was the best way for me to channel my desire for justice and create change in the world.
I recently made the determination to call my mom once a week and rebuild our relationship. On one of these calls, she shared some of her thoughts about the current Black Lives Matter movement, which were contrary to my beliefs. Before, I would have responded with anger, which would have driven us further apart. But, for the first time I realized that she didn’t want to be judged for her opinions in the same way that I didn’t want to be judged for mine, and I was able to feel compassion in my heart. With the Buddha’s voice, I melted the icy walls of defensiveness that have stood between us for so long. Her attitude immediately changed.
Since then, I’ve spoken with my mom once every week. All of the words that I’ve wanted to say to her are no longer burning arrows of rage in my heart. Instead, they are now rooted in a fundamental respect for her life that I have recognized through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon. My intention is to build trust with my mother and gradually help her understand the ills of our country and why I am working to change it.
I am determined to introduce others to this practice widely and continue to reform the tenets I hold in my heart so that I can courageously confront my judgement of others, refocusing each day on the Buddha nature of each individual above all else.