President’s New Year’s Message
Happy New Year! Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu! Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and in good spirits as we enter the New Year. The year 2020 was a year to remember, mostly from the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic had on all of us. We experienced lockdowns, isolation from family and friends, and job loss or insecurity. And most difficult of all, some of us lost family or friends to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have kept up with the news, you know that there is a very good chance that 2 or 3 pharmaceutical companies will have vaccines available for the Coronavirus before the end of this year. The good news is that the first two vaccines appear to be very effective in preventing COVID-19 disease. Also, you can be sure that the FDA is looking very carefully at the safety profile for each vaccine. As vaccine availability increases, there is good reason to believe that we may be looking at an optimistic scenario of returning to a more “normal” lifestyle by the summer or fall of next 2021. Let’s hope that the vaccines continue to show effectiveness with a good safety profile and that enough people will step up and get vaccinated!
Through the difficult times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, our collective Sangha responded by sewing masks for others, helping with daily chores such as shopping or cleaning, sharing meals, delivering produce, and by calling or messaging others. Ministers shared the Dharma through YouTube, Facebook and other electronic media. Small in-person services were held as permitted by law in spite of the risk to our ministers’ health.
Our actions through this pandemic confirms that our Sangha is vibrant, caring and compassionate. Although we were separated physically, we connected with others through individual and collective acts of kindness.
As we look forward to the New Year of 2021, let us reflect upon what we are grateful for-life, family, friends and a supportive community. Let us wake up each morning grateful for Amida Buddha’s Compassion, which surrounds each one of us.
“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are;
it solely relies on what you think.” – Buddha
Warren Tamamoto MD
President, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii