View from the Pew
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Students from Pacific Buddhist Academy and local Lions Club members painted the vandalized Peace Bell in Blaisdell Park on Wednesday in preparation for Peace Day tomorrow. This is the second year that Peace Day is being celebrated in Hawaii, in tune with the United Nations International Day of Peace.
Peace of mind
Students from Pacific Buddhist Academy restore the neglected and defaced Peace Bell
A small group of high-energy teenagers scrubbed and painted a nearly forgotten monument to peace near Pearl Harbor on Wednesday.
Until the Earth is Tinted with a Rosy Hue
By Bishop Ekan Ikeguchi
Clouds! Winds! Waves!
Only you know of the days long past.
When the sky burned and the earth was razed.
Columns of water spewed high into the sky from the sea.
Oh the foolishness of war.
Oh the fruitlessness of war.
Who is it now that opens the door to peace?
Who is it now that shades the flag of peace?
It's you and me and all the people in the world.
Peace sprouts from the heart of each of us.
Peace is what each of us earnestly prays for.
Cloud, wind, waves to you we swear
Never again will we repeat the hellish scene
of burning skies and razed land
Sea spewing columns of water high in the sky.
Let the bell of peace ring and echo loudly and widely
Until the whole earth be tinted with a rosy hue.
Their elbow grease obliterated graffiti defacing the wooden pavilion enshrining the Japanese Peace Bell, which was erected in 1991 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It's beside a hiking and biking trail on the Koko Head edge of Neal Blaisdell Park.
The senior class of Pacific Buddhist Academy will return tomorrow to swing the log-sized mallet to ring the cast-iron bell. The 9 a.m. ceremony will mark Peace Day in Hawaii and planners for the celebration tried to encourage churches and temples around the state to ring their bells at the same time. Stay tuned to hear whether the idea caught on.
The state Legislature last year passed a resolution declaring Sept. 21 to be Peace Day in Hawaii, making this the first state to formally observe the United Nations International Day of Peace, which the general assembly created in 1981. It's celebrated in 200 countries, but not so much in the United States.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Pacific Buddhist Academy student Ryne Masuda and Pieper Toyama, the academy's head of school, checked the condition of the Peace Bell.
"We have a high tolerance for the absence of peace," said Pieper Toyama, head of the private high school that is grounded in Shin Buddhist principles. "We want our students to develop into people who do not have a tolerance for the absence of peace. The culture of peace is not part of their parents' experience.
"Peace, if it is to be achieved, has to be part of how we think.
"If we attach it to a ritual, it makes it more than a word; it becomes an experience. The service, ringing of the bell, does this."
The small Honolulu school "is going to adopt this bell," Toyama said. "I hope we will ring it on all occasions that remind us of peace: Gandhi's birthday, Martin Luther King Day."
Members of the Aiea and Pearl City Lions Clubs watched the teens follow in their footsteps. The now-defunct Pearl Harbor Lions Club organized the construction of the monument and the other club chapters have maintained it, painting it once a year, said Aiea member Wendell Hosea.
"Seeing the kids do this is saying the future of Hawaii is in good hands," Hosea said. "Now that schools require community service, it gives kids a better understanding of citizenship and pride in their community."
Student Karianne Kauleinamoku said, "Making it brand new makes us feel good about ourselves."
The bell was donated by Japanese Buddhist Bishop Ekan Ikeguchi of Kagoshima, Japan. Two craftsmen came from Japan to assemble the shrine-like structure. "They assembled it without nails; the lumber is interlocking," Hosea said.
Student Ryne Masuda stepped out of the painters' ranks to copy the words of a poem, written by Ikeguchi and inscribed on a plaque, which has also been a target of vandals.
"I think he talked about what he experienced when the bombs were dropping," Masuda said of the poet's imagery of burning sky.
"Peace can be your interpretation of what you want it to mean," he said. "It can be doing a good deed every day. It can start small, just saying thank you, and get bigger."
Masuda will be with other members of the Young Buddhist Association who have good reason to join the Peace Day program tomorrow at the Hawaii Convention Center.
"We started the idea of having Peace Day," he said. The Hawaii Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Association endorsed the idea at their convention two years ago. They took it to the grown-ups, the legislative assembly of the Hongwanji Buddhist denomination, who jumped on board.
Then the youths testified at the state Legislature, backing the resolution introduced by Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu. The lawmakers passed it and Gov. Linda Lingle signed it.
"It is a great accomplishment," Masuda said. "It shows other states they can do it, too."
Toyama said that the study of peace is interwoven in the curriculum of the academy. "It is imbedded in the academics, in the school assemblies, the global culture class looks at peace every day.
"For the children, peace plays out in how they behave with each other and their families. It is everywhere and all the time," Toyama said.
His remarks may strike a chord when looking at tomorrow's program. "Is Peace Possible in Our Schools?" is the topic of a panel discussion. A special forum will be held on school bullying.
Atypical of their age, the paint squad members worked without the backup of boombox music, probably because the adult organizers packed the supplies.
But for an observer, the anthem of another generation longing for the end of another awful war was ringing in the ears: "All we are saying is give peace a chance."