We are living in difficult times, with much social upheaval. I despair at the rancor we show each other, and wonder when we will become civil again. It was with this backdrop that I welcomed our little town’s celebration of Peace Week.
Selecting from activities like Wine at 5, Reading for Peace at the library, and a day of Mindfulness Meditation, the residents of Honoka’a had many opportunities to honor and manifest World Peace. Even children are encouraged to participate with their creations of Posters for Peace. My favorite part is the Peace Parade and the Festival. It’s so family-friendly and welcoming of all. There may be more Honokaʻa residents IN the parade than watching it. This year, more than ever, it seemed important to celebrate and pray for peace. And all this was made possible by some far-thinking Hawaiʻi youth eleven years ago.
In 2007, our United Junior Young Buddhist Association lobbied and succeeded in having the State of Hawai‘i recognize the United Nations Peace Day, by then more than 20 years old. Honoka‘a has celebrated every year since then. Many US communities have followed, but we were the first. This is positive thinking and visualizing on a grand scale! I am so blessed to live in this town, with its special vibe.
For the first time, the Honokaʻa Hongwanji’s Peace Committee chose a theme, “Calling all Immigrants,” reminding us that most of us came to Hawaiʻi and to the US from somewhere else. (I loved the United Methodist Church members marching in their ethnic dress.) We are most fortunate to have a rich cultural heritage on the Big Island; a true Global Village. Every group that has come here has contributed to our global soup. Perhaps we can be a role model for other places. In these times, making the link between Peace and Immigrants is an important humanitarian effort.
A vivid example from this year’s festivities was the vegetarian Indian meal served at the parade. In the Sikh tradition of langar, it is customary to feed others for free regardless of race or religion. Sikhs open their doors to people of all denominations of Christianity, Hindus and Muslims to share food as a way of acknowledging that all people and all religions are equal. Here at the parade, Ravi, Annie and others served multiple pots of rice and two kinds of dal they had made that day. They were a symbol, both of new immigrants seamlessly integrating into the culture of the Big Island, and ordinary people peacefully addressing the humanitarian needs of others.
The Festival continued the family-focused celebration with the Honokaʻa High School Jazz Band led by our beloved Mr. Washburn, the Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko performers and their blue lion, aerialists and jugglers led by Ms. Alea Backus, even an address by our island-wide mayor, Harry Kim.
Reverend Bruce Nakamura from the Honokaʻa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple led the invocation and expanded on the need for peace to include other species and the land itself in his address at the Festival:
“ALOHA dear sisters and brothers … Thank you one and all for joining together in these 2018 Honokaʻa Peace Day activities and events … Let us pause for a few moments … amid the scurry of modern day living and its pressures. PEACE – Is it simply … the absence of fear, hurt, conflicts, violence and killing? With our shared desire for peace, (let’s) explore its deeper, dimensions rooted in the actual world we live in.
All beings, animate and inanimate live and exist interdependently in a flux of change joined by inter-relatedness. This net of constant flux requires the taking of life whether, human, animal, plant or minerals. As human beings, we inevitably benefit taking life indirectly or directly. This sustains our well-being, and the irony is, we have not discovered a way of subsisting as a species without hurting and destroying other organisms – animate and inanimate.
How piteous the human animal, lacking True Wisdom not to take that which should not be taken nor given to him … At times even in his arrogance of religious piety, he claims the right to utilize what the creator has endowed him in providence and for prosperity.
Hence, grasped by Great Compassion, let us enlarge our shared responsibilities to ‘Aina and to our brothers and sisters in need in our human family … Evoking the Name of Great Compassion – Na Mo A Mi Da Butsu – Na Man Da Bu – Na Man Da Bu – Na Man Da Butsu … Thank you everyone.”
I know I need peace in my life. How about you? As the song goes, give peace a chance.
I’d like to acknowledge Mr. Miles Okumura for his leadership on the Peace Committee for the past 12 years.
Prior essays about Peace Week:
Our little town invites world peace
Meditation, fellowship and the dentist
See also Big Island Video News:
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I loved this column about the annual Honoka’a Peace Day. I’m sorry that we happened to be away that day and missed this year’s festivities. I would love it if the North Hawaii News would print this. I think that most people outside of Hamakua never hear about this festival and would want to attend or participate if they knew.
Thank you Phyllis. Yes, we do need to make more people aware of this annual event.