People's Hearts with Trust — Linda Wright
Linda Wright was born and raised in an unhappy family environment. Her father was often drunk and frequently became violent in her presence. Eventually, he walked out on the family altogether. Her mother, meanwhile, had been raised in a family where little affection was shown between parent and child, so she also hesitated to show affection toward her daughter Linda.
During high school, Linda directed her frustration and anger about her family life into the Vietnam War protest movement. She felt that she couldn't trust anybody — leaders in society, family or friends — and eventually, she lost confidence even in herself.
In May 1969, Ms. Wright was invited to a Buddhist meeting. She was impressed when she heard a speaker explain that the Mystic Law is latent within everyone and that everyone's life, without exception, is precious. She felt as if she had found an oasis, a total contrast to her lonely, empty life. She began participating in SGI activities and was able to attend a study seminar in Japan, where she could observe firsthand how SGI President Ikeda devoted himself to the work of encouraging individual members. This surprised her as she had never seen anyone in a position of leadership show so much concern for others.
In 1972, Ms. Wright had an opportunity to perform as a member of a singing group, the Capital Chicks, established by a small group of SGI members. Singing with this group became a turning point in her life because it instilled in her the determination to develop her potential. She points out that her Buddhist practice did not change her life for the better overnight. Rather, it gradually helped her overcome her mistrust of others and begin to develop a sense of purpose.
Ms. Wright began studying mass communications and international relations at the American University in Washington, DC. During her undergraduate studies, she interned at the local TV station in order to gain hands-on experience in TV journalism. She was planning to pursue a master's degree in international law, but right before classes began, Iowa Public Television called to see if she was still interested in working with them, three years after she had applied for a job there. They called her to come for interview.
Ms. Wright left for the interview wondering why the station had contacted her after such a long time. Even though the interview went well, she wasn't hired immediately for the job.
On the way back to Washington, Ms. Wright ran into the producer of a major TV station under whom she had once served an internship. This producer called the TV station in Iowa immediately and told them that they should hire her. Thanks to that telephone call, Linda got the job. In retrospect, she feels that she was successful in this endeavor because her Buddhist prayers reflected her determination to find the right job.
Ms. Wright worked as a reporter at the TV station in Iowa for eight years. An agricultural state in the Midwestern United States, Iowa might not seem like the best environment for an aspiring international journalist; however, Ms. Wright enjoyed the time she spent there. The TV station had close ties with the local people, and she was able to formulate a global vision based on her understanding of the situation in each locality she covered. At the time, there were few SGI-USA members in Iowa, so Ms. Wright took responsibility for Buddhist activities in the area. It was not unusual for her to drive several hours just to encourage a single member.
In 1987, she returned to Washington to work for C-SPAN, where she worked for 10 years. At first, her main job was serving as a control room producer, and she had little opportunity to practice journalism. Her dream of becoming an international journalist started to fade, and she seriously thought about changing jobs. However, she drew great courage from the words of a senior member in faith, who said that she should strive to succeed where she was and that she should chant to develop the wisdom to enjoy her current work.
In 1992, one of the producers at the international bureau changed jobs, and Linda was promoted to his position. Her hard work had finally been recognized. She felt she had been able to prove the value of her Buddhist practice because she struggled to change, rather than escape from, her painful situation.
Ms. Wright has since been around the rapidly changing world. In 1993, when she visited Russia to cover the presidential election that led to the advent of democracy, she had an opportunity to chant with the local members there. Ms. Wright saw that the seeds of humanistic Buddhism were beginning to blossom there.
rally for Nelson Mandela in 1994
Last year, Ms. Wright went to China where, in addition to interviewing important figures in the Chinese government, she visited ordinary people in their homes, believing that one cannot understand the real situation in a country without seeing and talking with the average citizen.
Ms. Wright's report on China was broadcast in China as well as in the United States. People who saw it in China have sent her over 700 letters and emails, praising it as "a fair program," "a program that introduced China correctly," "a program filled with humanism."
After about 30 years of steady Buddhist practice, Ms. Wright, who used to be a solitary person full of distrust, has become an international journalist capable of bridging the gaps between people's hearts with trust and understanding. As she ponders her next career move, she is now striving to become an opinion leader in the 21st Century in order to ensure that it will be a century marked by respect for human rights and celebration of the dignity of human life. Ms. Wright's dream is expanding limitlessly.
Linda Wright, an SGI-USA chapter women's division vice chief in Washington, DC, has had a long and interesting career as a journalist, which has enabled her to visit different countries and add to her understanding of Buddhism.
[From the SGI