Thinking of These Children as the Light of the World

The social and economic turmoil brought about by the unending coronavirus pandemic has affected the entire world. Discrimination and division have become more serious, and this situation affects even the relationships among school children. Comments such as “Hey, don’t come near me! You are spreading the virus because your parent works in a hospital, and they must have brought the virus into your home,” are becoming commonplace. What a sad situation it is!

Those who save corona-patients should be respected. Sadly, healthcare workers have to tell their children not to mention their parent’s job in school.

Thinking about it, I am reminded of the murders of children with disabilities at a care facility in Sagamihara, Japan four years ago. It was shocking that the murderer said, without regret, that people with disabilities do not deserve to live. This is the same thought process that the Nazis used to justify the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Nowadays, the advancement of the market economy has brought about a greater concentration of wealth in smaller portions of society, and socioeconomic disparities continue to worsen. The destruction of the environment also continues. Our society sinks deeper and deeper into a terrible darkness. Even the value of human life is measured in terms of loss and gain; in terms of whether we are useful, or not.

However, I am reminded of Professor Kazuo Itoga, who gathered and helped the orphans of World War II. In particular, Professor Itoga noticed that children with intellectual disabilities have no wicked thoughts. They do not lie or deceive people, but only retain the emotional purity of their birth. During a lecture given in Shiga Prefecture just before his death, Professor Itoga, who devoted his life to the welfare of children, said: We should think of these children as the light of the world!

Ordinarily, we tend to think that we should give light to these children, which means we should support them. But professor Itoga’s statement is that they themselves are the light of this world, which means we should learn from their mental attitude, which we have lost or forgotten.

The following is a short poem, written in exclusively in hiragana, at last learned with great effort, by a young, Japanese boy, named Oba:

Even if we are spoken to unkindly or treated with cruelty, we should not feel defeated. Let us have a generous heart.

Although we might neither be able to read words nor to do calculations, we should do our best by using our hands and feet.

Even if we fail to do something, or if we do poorly, let us continue to try as many times as needed.

So, we should focus energy and live earnestly, in spite of facing these ordeals. Actually, anybody could experience infection, bad accidents, or disaster. There is no guarantee that we will still be alive tomorrow. Therefore, it is important that we live today with sympathy and consideration for one another.

Excerpt from a recent speech by Reverend Ichishima Genshin. Translated into English by Reverend Ichishima Shōshin and edited by DeZauche Shōnen. For the original, click here.