Toshihiro Okada (65, Yonago City) worked as a police officer in a residential police box for 35 years. The jurisdictional area of his police department, which consisted of about three thousand families, was shrinking in population and sixty percent of the families were aged households.
“Since the number of police officers was limited, each officer needed to be in charge of a wide range of areas, so I had a heavy workload,” he said. Because of frequent bank transfer scams in recent years, he put his efforts into patrolling elderly people's houses between his duties. He even visited houses in remote mountain areas to talk cordially with the elderly and advise them to be wary of these scams. On New Year’s Eve, Okada offered some food to a man who was living in solitude and kindly listened to him. It was for doing things like this that he was known to local residents as “the warm-hearted police officer”.
However, in spite of his attempts to watch over the elderly, many of them kept becoming victims of fraud. “Every time I see a victim, I wonder why such a bad thing could happen to a good person. Even after the case is solved, the victim's sadness and anger does not heal easily. Sometimes their families blame the victims for not having talked to them beforehand, which can even lead to them becoming bedridden.
On the other hand, there was the case of one elderly person in poverty who stole rice balls from a convenience store, and that of an old man who was tired of taking care of his mother and so he neglected her and let her weaken and die. Seeing the criminals repent their mistakes, he feels sympathy. “There is no justification for their crimes but if I had been in their places, what would have I done? I thought about it many times,” he said.
Early last summer, he received a flyer and the phrase "The greatest historical figure, Master Shinran” caught his eye. He therefore attended an animation lecture on the life of Master Shinran and then attended seminars on Buddhism too.
One day, hearing the words of Master Shinran—“ Continue to commit evil all throughout life” and "Under the right conditions, I, Shinran, would do anything"— he was deeply impressed with Master Shinran’s thorough self-insight. Police officers, who enforce the law, are also humans and so are no different from criminals, if one were to examine the depths of their heart.
Under the right conditions, one can be a victim or a victimizer. Neither can be saved without listening to the teachings of Master Shinran. I felt the 2000-Tatami- Mat Hall is a place that such hopelessly evil beings as us must go to.
At the end of last year, he visited the 2000-Tatami- Mat Hall for the first time. In March, he joined a Correct Object of Reverence Granting Ceremony and became a Shinran Follower.
After retiring, Okada started a handicraft class and has been making miniature trains and other such toys to reach out to children.
"Police officers, who enforce the law, are also humans and so are no different from criminals, if one were to examine the depths of their heart."
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #52 | 2015, Former Police Officer: I Could Never be Saved Without Listening to Buddhism
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