Mar. 5, 2017 Sermon
 Recently, two people were sentenced to prison in Georgia for instigating acts of racist-inspired violence
in July of 2015. Jose Torres, 26, and Kayla Norton, 25, were sentenced to 20 and 15 years in prison
respectively. The judge noted that the two had committed a hate crime, and thus were barred from entering
Douglas County after being released. I saw a video of the sentencing, where the two cried.
 Upon sentencing, Norton cried, saying, “That is not me. That is not me. That is not him. . . . I would
never walk up to you and say those words to you. And, I am so sorry that happened to you.” The fact is
that there is indisputable proof in the form of a video of the two cruising around in pickup trucks draped
with Confederate flags, vilifying and terrorizing black families while calling them racial slurs throughout
two counties in Atlanta. The two were arrested for specifically targeting a group who was celebrating the
birthday of a black child in Douglasville. Eventually, Norton loaded a gun which Torres brandished to
threaten to kill the partygoers. This is when the family called the police. Torres and Norton were charged
with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention
Act.

 That Norton vehemently argued that she could never do such a horrible thing despite all the evidence to
the contrary suggests that the two do not appear to be completely convinced of their guilt. This may sound
heartless, but I am afraid that their protestations are not remorseful, but selfish at best. The tears that they
shed were not necessarily in sympathy for the victimized, but from the stark realization of their imminent
incarceration.

 These two will eventually realize who is at fault as they will be spending a long time in prison to think
about it. Hopefully their sentencing will be a wake-up call to anyone who may harbor hateful thoughts.
The relative youthfulness of these two behooves me to question the content and methods of our educational
system. Most of us spend at least twelve years in school until we graduate from high school. Surely within
this twelve-year span, there must be a way for students to arrive at their own conclusion that racism cannot
be tolerated. Inculcating this is not an easy endeavor, but it must be addressed. Perhaps, something can be
gleaned from our founder, Nichiren Shonin.

 Nichiren Shonin had a fundamental rubric for learning the most basic principles of our religion. This
can be explained by the term shin-ku-i. Shin means “body”; ku “mouth”, and i “thought”. It is thought that
these three elements must necessarily be simultaneously interactive in one’s faith for one’s faith to be
genuine. Let us examine its meaning in action. When we chant the O-daimoku, for example, we chant
with our mouths. But, just verbalizing the O-daimoku by itself is but a projection of sound. It is only when
it is coupled wholeheartedly with your body and mind that it becomes something of substance. One must
not only understand the concepts of Buddhism, but practice them. Faith is thought to require a multifaceted
comprehensive approach of studying and practicing the teachings of the Buddha. So, it is by
following this useful formula of shin-ku-i, that we can absorb and incorporate the essentials of Buddhism
within ourselves. If, in like manner, we can speak out, physically organize, and sustain thoughts of
embracing diversity and opposing division, principles of equality should blossom naturally within us.
 (Eisei Ikenaga)