Saturday, Feb 19th, is the 80th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, creating a sudden situation of distress and tragedy for our neighbors, friends and family. of Japanese ancestry.
Issued by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942, this order authorized the evacuation of all persons deemed a threat to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers further inland. In the next 6 months, over 100,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry were moved to assembly centers. They were then evacuated to and confined in isolated, fenced, and guarded relocation centers, known as internment camps—as prisoners without a crime.
Grounded in the confusion, fear and sadness of war and and in the still on-going persecution and racism against Japanese American citizens in the US, this act disrupted life and liberty for so many. Even today, the impacts of EO 9066 are embedded in the thoughts, feelings and actions of the citizens of our country, and the world.
Many of those interred were practitioners of Buddhism, and like many Tibetans who were and are persecuted today, they brought practice to their suffering. Their stories are important to our spiritual formation as contemporary American Buddhists. Please read more on this topic. Please use the suffering of these and all beings—including the perpetrators of these actions—as practice this weekend. As community, let’s keep these events in the light, and resolve to own our own role in the creation and resolution of suffering of all kinds. Suffering has no past, no future: it is alive in hearts and minds right now, right here, and can be created and must be resolved in this and every moment.
Learn more about Executive Order 9066 and its impacts on the lives of our Japanese American sisters and brothers here, and here and many other places online. May the Dekeling community ground itself on the fundamental equality of all, understanding that there is no ‘other.’