We are increasingly bombarded in the news by social atrocities; whether it’s the too frequent deaths of unarmed Blacks interacting with police, incidences of anti-Asian violence in cities across our country, or mass murders perpetrated by unstable citizens with automatic weapons. Even our nation’s Capital was under siege by an incited mob. Deep-seated hatred, bigotry, and prejudice have been drawn to the surface and caused division among us as we suffer through a pandemic.
It’s horrible to hear about acts of hatred. If you are relieved that these are not in your community or on your block, you may have a false sense of security. It is everywhere. Two personal examples: “Black Lives Matter” signs posted in Leucadia have been ripped down and left on the street destroyed. A Black friend of ours was stalked in a Carlsbad shopping center parking lot in broad daylight last week by a white male slowly driving a pickup truck casually brandishing a pistol. These incidents are not an indictment of our community, but indications that racism, prejudice and bigotry exist right here.
As Buddhists, we need to be seen and heard as a force of good across the country as well as in our own community. Bishop Reverend Harada was called to the White House last week, along with other Buddhist leaders to represent Mahayana Buddhism at a Vesak Ceremony remembering the birth, death and enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha. Why did President Biden take this action? Because Buddhism represents peace, love, tolerance and compassion and he wants these values to be represented within his administration.
So what do we do? We show up, we speak out, we engage. There are many ways we can reach out in North County San Diego and make our presence known—supporting charitable causes, participating in activities aligned with our values, advocating for tolerance and justice and against hatred. It is no longer enough for a Buddhist Sangha in America to only nurture itself. It needs to be visible in its community. Yes, Buddhist practice does focus on introspection, but our temples and our Sanghas should be visible in our communities and stand for socially redeeming ideas and actions.
Help Wanted. Our community and our society needs Buddhists to be heard, represent our values, support those in the communities that need it most and stand up for good.