The PRC is not to be confused or replaced by an ombudsman or grievance committee set up by the leadership. These are just committees. They do not sanction the power of the members to oversee the actions of the leaders. It is this very structure that would be confused with and mistakenly resembling the PRC for the empowerment of the membership at the grassroots level to be instituted into the by-laws of the SGI-USA. But their actual functions are very different.
While this sounds very good, because it would be comprised of members and leaders, the results would leave things pretty much the same as before, since we would be embracing the same old system.
Therefore the empowerment of the members must be kept separate when overseeing the actions of the leaders and keeping them accountable. The only thing the leaders must finally accept is the capacity of the people to know what unacceptable behavior is.
Because of these issues we were involved in, we were approached by many top senior leaders and pioneer members who had told us that your reputations in the SGI are golden, why jeopardize them. We knew then if we stood up, we would loose their friendship, because they didn't want to be associated with anything that would rock the boat. Two of the original PRC supporters were members of the "Justice TCD" (special soka han appointed by President Ikeda) to fight against dissident priests earlier in our movement's history. Albeit, most of the top leaders in the SGI-USA know us. But aside from this, we decided that our allegiance lies with the Law not with friendships and loyalties that would have us compromise the truth. We choose to stand up in any case regardless of the fact that our reputations would be tarnished and we would be ostracized. We joined the SGI to fight for a just world and kosen-rufu, and this was the basis for our friendships. When we found out that they were asking us to compromise our highest ideals, we had to stand up and make our choice and it was very painful.
At present we are practicing in protest of the present system in place in the SGI-USA. In the Elementary Level Textbook on page 88 it says: "The Daishonin is not encouraging the brothers to merely go against what was accepted as a social norm. Rather, here he tries to inject the spirit of humanism into this social obligation, thereby reviving its original intent. When ethics and morals go against humanism as expressed in Buddhism, we do not have to follow them."
We no longer feel that it is productive to attend activities to be silenced if we talk up or disagree. We realized that it would lead to being barred from meetings as happened to two of our supporters, and it would lead to needless humiliation with no positive results and end up making us look like we were there to destroy the organization. The bottom line is, we will never promise to remain silent as a prerequisite for attending meetings. This is unacceptable. That is why we are fighting from here. Because it is only through the medium of this Web site that we have any chance to be able to initiate a change and set the record straight.
After 30 years of practice and giving the prime time of our youth to serve the SGI there is no doubt that these past 3 years have been very difficult for us because when we stood up for change, we lost thousands of the relationships that we had nurtured throughout our lives, as leaders, members and friends turned away from us because we stood up for the truth and change. This became all the more difficult because we have reached the mid point of our lives and we now find ourselves having to start our lives over again. This is a very dear price to pay, but we were rewarded because we weathered the storm and now the quality of our lives have changed.
We know that after this Web site comes out we will be called malcontents, slanderers and people who went off track by the majority of the membership and leadership of the SGI nationwide, because we have persisted in out ideals. We will be labeled as enemies of the Buddha. But we know who we are, we know what we stand for and we have nothing to hide, so we will proceed to tell our stories.
Even though we are few in number, we find ourselves in good company. We will continue to fight until there is a change in the system that could generate such cruel consequences for those who truly wish to protect the organization, so that they never again have to suffer ostracism from the leaders and members alike.
On writing our reports, a decision was made to tell the whole truth not omitting people's names and details. Since our names were publicly and privately slandered, we must now give details of who said what and who did what, so that our stories would have substance so we can clear our names and those leaders could be held accountable to the members so they can be prevented from ever doing this again to anyone else. President Ikeda has said that it's necessary to set the record straight: "Unless we speak out to set the record straight and ensure that the truth prevails, we will not achieve kosen-rufu."
As the Temple Issue pamphlet says, "…unmask self-serving authority". For those who would spend hours and hours amassing Gosho quotes to justify silencing us or denying our right to protest claiming that we are slanderers, we say that we are members defending and protecting the Law and we ourselves were slandered, our names were defamed and our reputations were ruined publicly and privately. Therefore we cannot consider those leaders who hide behind the notion that since they are members of the SGI, that they are automatically distinguished as defenders of the Law and true disciples of Nichiren Daishonin, being beyond recrimination. They lose that designation if they slander their juniors. Therefore we are not committing any of the 14 slanders by pointing out their faults and what they did, because they can no longer be classified as a disciple when they commit character assassination of people who were protecting and defending the Law by fighting against Nikken. That's why we're getting our reports out this way, so the record is straight and we are not branded as slanderers, also to make their actions known so we can protect the organization and the members from such people.
To make this clear, let's say that a woman in the organization was sexually harassed or molested and she was a very active member in taking up the fight against Nikken and protecting the Law, and she was told to keep silent and was furthermore accused of fabricating the story. Could we then justify protecting the person guilty of this abuse and what if he was a leader and it was covered up to protect the righteous name of the organization? Then that leader would be strutting around with free rein to do it again to someone else. He is the slanderer! Not only because he molested this woman, but she was also a defender of the true teachings.
Then if this woman has the courage to speak up to protect the organization from treacherous leaders like that, would you then brand her as a slanderer? She has every right to speak up without fear that she is committing a slander because here, the 14 Slanders does not apply to her because that leader cannot be considered a true disciple or a defender of the Law when he himself slandered and abused a disciple. Isn't that why President Ikeda has given guidance on numerous occasions about protecting the organization from womanizers and other corrupt individuals? So, to those who would utter mindless statements like "two wrongs don't make a right" to persecute and silence her, instead, why don't you persecute and condemn the perpetrator and anyone who would support such actions! That is protecting the organization from within. So in such a scenario, when we hear such phrases as "two wrongs don't make a right" or "change yourself first before blaming others" or any utterances of such fashion, these statements become ludicrous and are out of context in such situations.
Why over the years has there been this pattern that when any of the members or junior leaders would challenge the actions of the leaders especially those higher in the hierarchy, or point out the need for a change, could they be condemned by both the leadership and membership as slanderers and sinners? Doesn't this seem strange? That's what happens when the people don't oversee the actions of the leaders and that's why we're proposing the change. That's what happens whenever there is unchecked authority, the burden of guilt is put on the member's shoulders and the leaders have no accountability. Because of this structure, anything other than unconditional trust given to the leaders is counted as a sin. So even if a member were to expose, in name or in deed, the delinquent actions of a leader who was in fact culpable, to protect the organization, that member would be condemned as a sinner or slanderer.
To be continued….
Note to readers: please see the current and subsequent articles on the Alert page for the continuation.
December 29, 2000