A Plea to Fellow Americans

US Capitol, west side, photo by Martin Falbisoner - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28359031
Photo by Martin Falbisoner – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. source

A Plea to Fellow Americans

Bishop Eric Matsumoto
January 7, 2021

Yesterday, on January 6, 2021, we witnessed a shocking and reprehensible attack on our democracy. The aggression and violence that was exhibited is a far cry from the ideals of our Nation. We can have differences of opinions and views, but our actions should never be destructive and violent. As I watched events unfold in Washington D.C. at the rally being held by the President which led to the storming of the Capitol Building and a violent disruption of the constitutional certification of the votes by the Electoral College, I was reminded of the following saying:

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. If our minds are filled with empathy and compassion, they will be resistant to the negative words we hear. We must not let wild words pass our lips lest they arouse feelings of anger and hatred. The words we speak should always be words of empathy and wisdom.

Also, “The duty of a leader is to protect the people.” “Indeed, a leader’s governance is not perfect until the people abide in peace.” True leadership is about understanding how words have the power to hurt or to heal. Sadly, the cultivation of peace is not what we witnessed.

A comment which I appreciated hearing, in referring to the American people, was “We can do better.” Yes, people of America, we must do better. “Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” In whatever situation or circumstance, “Anger will never disappear as long as there are thoughts of resentment in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.”

We reaffirm our commitment to sharing the Buddha’s Teachings so that all beings may enjoy lives of harmony, peace, and gratitude. We uphold the democratic values of our nation and how our differences can be resolved through respectful dialogue. Let us all be mindful of our thoughts, words, and actions and how they can affect not only our lives but the lives of others.

I encourage us all take to heart the famous saying in the Dhammapada, that “Hatred is not overcome by hatred. Hatred is overcome by love. This is an ancient law.”

May we be guided by the light of All-inclusive wisdom and All-embracing compassion.

Namo Amida Butsu

Bishop Eric Matsumoto in ministerial vestments (small thumbnail image)Reverend Eric Matsumoto is the 16th bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.