Peace Day Candle Light Vigil
September 21, 2019
130th Anniversay Celebration
Service, Luncheon and Peace Panel
October 6, 2019
Peace Panel Members:
Kahu Sherman Thompson (Kamehameha Schools)
Bishop Kosen Ishikawa (Jodo Mission)
Bishop Eric Matsumoto (Honpa Hongwanji)
Panel Moderator: Rev. Mieko Majima
Peace Day Panel Discussion
Peace Day in Hawaii 2019 Message
Bishop Eric Matsumoto
As Peace Day in Hawaii (September 21st) approaches and our various Hongwanji Shin Buddhist Temples prepare to spread the important message of peace, harmony, non-violence and reconciliation, and other community organizations also observe remembrances related to World War II in August and September, I would like to share my message and aspiration for this year’s Peace Day in Hawaii. I humbly ask that we all take some time to reflect guided by the Wisdom and Compassion of Supreme Enlightenment. May Amida Buddha’s Light of Wisdom and Compassion illumine our hearts and minds so we may be able to deeply reflect, come to some life-changing realizations which has the potential of transforming myself and the world and thus contributing to lasting peace and happiness.
As we lament about the suffering from wars including the mass shootings and bombings which are continuing to happen around the world and in our nation too, let us take a deeper look at ourselves and the world. Many times, as we look at situations of our life and world, we focus only on the conditions. However, with the Wisdom of Enlightenment to guide us, let us see the need to become aware of the deeper causes of suffering together with the conditions. Any fix by only addressing the conditions will be good only as long as the conditions do not change, but by addressing the cause of suffering we can snip the suffering at its root. It is, indeed, most difficult for us humans, people, to look at our own selves. My ego does not want to reveal itself even to its own self. With Enlightened Wisdom to guide, we are able to understand that the true cause of suffering in the world is ignorance and the afflictions which arise from it like arrogance, anger, greed, envy, self-centeredness, fear and so forth. Unless, we address the root cause which is ignorance and these afflictions which arise from it, we will continue to be plagued by negatives which in its extreme forms result in so much devastation, destruction and even loss of life which our normal minds cannot even fathom unless one has experienced it or seen it for oneself. Hence, the importance of listening to voices of those who have experienced the worst of humankind.
However, at the same time, we must also hear the voices, the Wisdom and Compassion, of those who have attained the highest levels of attainment, so we have hope, can aspire and begin to walk the path of peace and harmony. Thus, today, regardless of religious affiliation or even if you do not have one, let us embrace Wisdom and Compassion which aspires for the peace and happiness of not only one, a few, or many, but all life, all existence. May we be guided by an All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion known as the Buddha of Immeasurable Life and Infinite Light whose Name is Namo Amida Butsu (the Buddha’s Name That Calls Us (to entrust). May we be guided and our path be illuminated by a Presence which goes beyond our ego as a person, nation, religion, and even as humankind to realize true interdependence and realize the common wish of all life, all existence to be happy, free and safe. May the Buddha’s Light of Wisdom and Compassion guide, nurture and inspire us! Please allow me to recite the Buddha’s Name Which I Call (in gratitude) to conclude my message.
Namo Amida Butsu.
International Peace Day: September 21
The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly. In 2002, September 21 became the permanent date for the International Day of Peace, as a period of non-violence and cease-fire, to strengthen the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell, originally donated by the UN Association of Japan in June, 1954, is rung at UN Headquarters in New York City. The Peace Bell was cast from coins and medals donated by the representatives of the UN Member States, the Pope, and individuals from over 60 different nations. The bell tower was modeled after a Japanese Hanamido, a small temple decorated with flowers that symbolizes the place where Buddha was born. The inscription on the side of the bell reads, "Long live absolute world peace".
In 2007, Hawaii became the first state to recognize Peace Day. On April 18th, 2007, Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu introduced House Bill 345 to the Hawaii legislature. It became a law that established a Peace Day, a non-holiday, to be observed on September 21 of each year in the State of Hawaii “to promote peace programs, improve international relations, and increase educational awareness of peace.”
Representative Karamatsu was inspired to introduce this bill after being approached by Hawai`i Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Association (Jr. YBA) members, who presented a similar resolution to the Honpa Legislative Assembly. September 21st was chosen because it was already designated as the International Day of Peace by the United Nations. As told by Jonathan Gates, a senior at Kaimuki High School at the time of the creation of Hawaii’s Peace Day and member of the Hawai`i Federation of Jr. YBA, "In this tumultuous world today, the idea of peace seems far out of reach. Peace Day will help to open the doors to facilitate more cooperation in the name of peace education and outreach, which will benefit us all."
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and people.
The theme draws attention to the importance of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world.
Climate change causes clear threats to international peace and security. Natural disasters displace three times as many people as conflicts, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. The salinization of water and crops is endangering food security, and the impact on public health is escalating. The growing tensions over resources and mass movements of people are affecting every country on every continent.
Peace can only be achieved if concrete action is taken to combat climate change. Speaking to young Māoris and people of the Pacific islands in New Zealand in May, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “nature does not negotiate” and emphasized four key measures that Governments should prioritize in order to reach carbon neutrality by 2050: 1. tax pollution, not people; 2. stop subsidizing fossil fuels; 3. stop building new coal plants by 2020; 4. focus on a green economy, not a grey economy.