SLO BUDDHIST TEMPLE
by L. R. Knost
In February there was news of an executive order being issued once again. This time it is for another nation of people. However, for the first generation Japanese (Issei) who came to America, their American born children (Nisei or second generation and some Sansei or third generation Japanese American citizens), German Americans and Italian Americans, it brings back a time in history that caused suffering and devastation. These generations were incarcerated in concentration camps around the United States.
6996 Ontario Rd.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
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It is not our job to toughen our children up
To face a cruel and heartless world. It is
Our job to raise children who will make
The world a little less cruel and heartless.
There remain memories of hardship, discrimination and prejudice. Society’s view of Japanese, Japanese American, German and Italian Americans changed when Executive Order 9066 was instituted. According to the census, there were over 127,000 Japanese in the United States. This order cleared the way for internment of a group of people who only wanted to earn a livelihood and raise a family in peace. This order was and continues to be a scar for over 112,000 Japanese of the West Coast.
When the Japanese were released from these camps, they returned frightened and penniless to the place they called home to face a heightened population filled with prejudice and discrimination. Some of the Buddhist churches were saved by the goodwill of few people who watched over the property. How for-tunate we were to come back and have a temple that opened its doors to help those who returned to the West Coast.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Buddhist and Christian ministers, language school instructors, newspaper workers, fishermen and community leaders of Japanese descent. Some were sent to New Mexico, Montana, Arkansas, Texas and North Dakota. These people were incarcerated in isolation from their families for many months on end. Their families did not know where they were or when they would see their spouses again. Eventually 1,700 of those in isolation were released to concentration camps where they were reunited with their families.
It was on February 19, 1942 that Executive Order 9066 was reinforced, 75 years ago and now another executive order is issued. The adage, “One step forward, two steps back” has certainly come back to haunt us once again. One would think with so much modern advancement in science, education and social awareness and tolerance, prejudice and discrimination would be a thing of the past. Yet it seems never to disappear.
The saddest event falls on our youth that take matters in their own hands, without knowing why or with proper information. They “overhear” adults and apply those words into actions that can cause hurt, pain and sometimes death. Schoolmates who were friends are now considered the “enemy”. How sad we do not take the time to discuss such issues with our children without prejudice and ego. It is the adults’ ignorance that causes the youth to act with malice and ill will.
There are people out there who do want to cause disaster and pain and there are many who are kind and gentle. We must extend our hands in friendship and without suspicion. There were so many who ex-tended their hands to us before and after the return from the camps. We share our gratitude and thankful-ness and we look toward the Buddha Dharma to guide us. We entrust in Buddha’s words and Shinran’s teachings to better our selves. We look within our hearts and minds to hear and find the solutions. We put our palms together in Gassho to give us comfort and guidance and to share wisdom so that we too can make right and appropriate decisions.
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano
19th: NO Intro to Buddhism class.
26th: Ohigan Service