Buddhists from the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai‘i led a virtual global bell-ringing yesterday in celebration of Peace Day, a state holiday in Hawai‘i that coincides each year with the United Nations International Day of Peace.
Described as the first-ever International “Ring Your Bell for Peace” event, the occasion was live-streamed on the KTUH Honolulu Facebook page. The broadcast, coordinated through Zoom, featured bell-ringing from Buddhists, Christians, and people of other faith backgrounds. Most of those taking part were from Hawai‘i, but Buddhists from mainland North American cities including Seattle, Calgary, Winnipeg, and New York also took part.
Ahead of the event, the Buddhist Bishop of the Buddhist Temples of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai‘i Eric Matsumoto sent a letter of invitation to Bishop Larry Silva of the Catholic Church to likewise take part.
“Because it is such a challenging time with so much happening in our nation and around the world, I thought we need to reach out even more to each other,” Matsumoto told Silva. “More than ever, it is essential that we let mutual understanding, respect, and appreciation guide us. Thus, I would like to ask for your blessing.” (Hawaii Catholic Herald)
The observance began at 11:30 a.m., local time, with an opening address and invocation by Matsumoto at 11:40 a.m. At noon there was a minute of silence to honor all those who had sacrificed to achieve peace, followed by five minutes of bell-ringing by all those who had registered to join via Zoom. Closing the event, members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Honolulu sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” a benediction by chaplain Sherman Thompson of the United Church of Christ, an oli—a Hawai‘ian chant—and a raucous goodbye or “aloha” as all participants were invited to unmute and send their best wishes.
“Today we are strengthening the ideals of peace, spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of the pandemic,” said Bishol Eric Matsumoto of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai‘i ahead of the event. “We join together in promoting listening and learning and healing our planet for a peaceful future.” (The Garden Island)
Event organizer Rene Mansho stated: “Hawai‘i was the first state to recognize Peace Day thanks to the youth. For this reason, we want to acknowledge and include as many youth as we can, to show our appreciation, and acknowledge them as our best hope for the future of peace in our world.” She continued: “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring people together, no matter where they are and what their beliefs and politics are. We can take a step back, listen to the sound of the bells, and just for a time, think Peace.” (The Maui News)
Peace Day in Hawaii was established by state law in 2007 as 21 September, “to promote peace programs, improve international relations, and increase educational awareness of peace.” (Hawaii Catholic Herald) Hawai‘i was the first US state to join more than 200 countries in celebrating the United Nations International Day of Peace and Non-Violence, established in 1981.
The theme for the 2020 International Day of Peace is “Shaping Peace Together.” According to the UN, “This year, it has been clearer than ever that we are not each other’s enemies. Rather, our common enemy is a tireless virus that threatens our health, security and very way of life. COVID-19 has thrown our world into turmoil and forcibly reminded us that what happens in one part of the planet can impact people everywhere.” (United Nations)
In March, UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued an appeal for a ceasefire around the world in order for humanity to unite against the common enemy, after which some 70 nations gave their formal backing.