Written by Yue Ma
Translated by Hong (Ariel) Chan
Edited by Andrea Barkley
On June 20, 2021, a tornado swept through the Chicago area. The storm touched down near Chicago’s Jing Si Hall, and volunteers moved quickly to hold multiple relief distributions. Illinois’s 11th Congressional District Representative, Bill Foster, saw Tzu Chi Midwest volunteers helping residents in his jurisdiction at the distribution site. He became curious and wanted to learn more about the charity organization. Volunteers took advantage of the opportunity and introduced Tzu Chi USA to Foster.
After returning to his office, Congressman Foster told his secretary to arrange a trip to the Tzu Chi Jing Si Hall before heading to Capitol Hill in Washington to better understand the Foundation and its philosophy. Accordingly, on July 10, 2021, the Congressperson, accompanied by his secretary, visited the Tzu Chi hall. They had initially planned to stay for a 45-minute trip. However, Chicago volunteers kept them for nearly two hours with sincere hospitality.
The following is what Congressman Foster shared with everyone at the Chicago Meditation Hall:
“I saw what you were doing to help the tornado victims. The tornado landed entirely in my district. So I spent days visiting the area. One of the places I visited was where you relieved some families who lost their homes. So I thought, ‘Okay, this is a good group, and I want to get to know them better.’
Your organization is so wonderful; you should advertise more. But, of course, advertising and self-promoting is not the way of Buddhist philosophy. However, you do impressive things, and you should be proud of bringing new people into your organization so they can do good for the world too.
After [my father] passed away about 15 to 20 years ago, I read the papers about his decision to leave science and work in civil rights. So I started thinking about this fundamental question that everyone has to answer: What fraction of your life do you spend in service to your fellow human? You know, this is a question everyone has to answer. Some people spend their entire lives simply enjoying themselves and making money. Others spend their whole life trying to help their fellow citizens. For most people, it is somewhere in between. And so that’s one of the reasons I want to thank you for all you do with the Tzu Chi USA Foundation because you are living your life in service to others, And I want to thank you all.
It’s a perfect example of immigrant communities contributing to the United States and making it a stronger country. To aid people, no matter what religion or ethnicity. If someone needs help, you give that help to them. So the Buddhist spirit demonstrated by your group has shown how immigration strengthens us as a country.”