THE HEART OF KANJI: Heart of kindness for people and all things


人 (Hito) means “person.”

全て (Subete) This character, which represents a form of the person, means “everything.” The top of this word symbolizes the roof of a warehouse that stores many valuable items.

親 (Shin or oya) means “parents.” The top left side represents a person standing, and the bottom of this character represents a tree. The left side of the character represents an eye.

Hito to subeteni shinsetsu na kokoro calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

When these characters are written together, the parents are standing on top of a tree and are looking down below to make sure their children are doing well.

切 (Setsu) means “cut.” The left side of this word represents the cutting of a shape and the right side represents a knife. Imagine a doctor doing intricate surgery paying close attention to all the small details and studying how everything works. So likewise, parents are focused on their children and making sure no harm comes to them.

心 (Kokoro) means “heart,” which represents the shape of a human heart.
So when parents take care of and love their children, the same can be true in people who have a kind heart. We should show our kindness to others unconditionally, like a parent would to their own child.

When we relate this concept to what our society is going through with the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the many protests, we realize we are in this together. We cannot survive by ourselves, and there are many people who are supporting these efforts. Kindness can start with one simple act or gesture, and it can grow into a huge movement that can change the world.

I often ask people, “How many people have supported you from your birth to when you were 15 years old?” Some people answer, “Maybe 100 people,” while others say, “1,000 people.”

I tell them that we need at least 2 million people to enable us to reach age 15.

When I was younger, I took kindness for granted. I believed that I was able to grow up and accomplish things all by myself. One day, I realized I was able to come into this world and live because of the unconditional love and kindness of my parents, my grandparents and the countless generations before me. I also took it one step further and felt all the millions of people in the world who have been supporting me. As I was awakened by this truth, I regretted that I was so arrogant. After that, I began to respect my parents, all my ancestors and all people from the bottom of my heart. This truly changed the way that I live today.

The world has witnessed or heard how George Floyd lost his life due to unnecessary police brutality. People have been protesting and citizens from all walks of life and all racial backgrounds are no longer just thinking about themselves. They are thinking and doing something to change the world.

Their hearts of kindness and compassion are being shown throughout the world.

The United States’ racial problems have not been solved since the country was established 244 years ago.

We must first truly understand and educate ourselves on African American history to understand this injustice. Scientists say that humankind originated in Africa and migrated to Europe, Asia, North and South America or many other areas in the world.

Africans were kidnapped and brought to America as slaves. They were separated from their families, abused and killed. Yet, they continued to work hard while supporting the development of America greatly. We should not forget this important history and respect those who originally came from Africa. Right now, people are waking up to this.

Hopefully, justice will be served and we will live a more kind and compassionate world. Let’s all try our best to have a kind and unconditional heart to our world and its people right now. My hope is that we can learn from history, evaluate our attitude everyday, polish our heart and show our kindness to others and all things around us.
Rev. Masato Kawahatsu is a minister at the Konko Church of San Francisco and Konko Center of South San Francisco, who teaches shodo (Japanese calligraphy). He can be reached at or (415) 517-5563. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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