Sowing Seeds of Hope and Action Where We Are (Times of India, Nov. 18, 2021)
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to not only create a grave public health crisis around the world, but also to severely impact the economy and other aspects of human society. We are faced with the urgent challenge of restoring social connections and people’s livelihoods while halting the spread of infection.
The sudden disruptions to our daily lives during this unprecedented time have given rise to a deeper appreciation of the ways in which our lives and livelihoods are supported and sustained by the efforts of so many others. We have been able to surmount the severe challenges of the pandemic thanks to the dauntless efforts of frontline health workers and all those whose work helps secure the lifelines of society.
Thinking of their selfless struggles, I am reminded of Gandhiji’s encouragement against despair in the face of daunting tasks. He wrote: “It’s a matter of whether one touches the life of an individual. We can’t look after thousands of people. But if we can touch one person’s life and save that life, that is the great change that we can effect.”
To uplift those in our immediate environment; to help the individual in front of us—this, I believe, is the vital perspective we must adopt in our communities as we work, step by step, to solve problems and rebuild society from the ravages of the pandemic.
The Lotus Sutra, the great Buddhist heritage of India, contains the lines, “This, my land, remains safe and tranquil” and “My pure land is not destroyed.” These words pulsate with this same robust spirit—the determination to bring peace and security to this world and keep it from destruction.
While the pandemic seems to have finally begun to subside, the work of steadily resolving a host of problems in order to restore our lives, the economy and society—all of which have been deeply impacted—still lies ahead. Gandhiji’s encouragement and the spirit of resolve expressed in the above passages from the Lotus Sutra are important touchstones in this effort; one which must be led by the determination to move forward together despite all obstacles.
In addition to the Covid-19 crisis, we are also confronted by the reality of climate change. In response, the SGI has created the international exhibition, “Seeds of Hope & Action: Making the SDGs a Reality.” At schools and universities in India, young people and students who have viewed this exhibition have been inspired to strengthen their belief that every individual has the potential to bring about positive change.
The year 2021 has been one of unparalleled challenges, with countries around the world navigating many crises simultaneously. With firm conviction that our steady efforts to tackle these difficulties are helping to build a world in which every person can live in safety and security, let us begin to plant seeds of hope and action exactly where we are.