Small gestures, BIG changes

A simple, little Buddha statue seems to be spreading a big message of peace in an Oakland, California, neighborhood.


Photo by Hartwig HKD via Flickr

One resident, who’s not a Buddhist or even affiliated with any other religion, placed a small, stone Buddha at an Ace Hardware store in an Oakland residential area that was plagued by crime, drug-dealing, prostitution, and littering. He was merely hoping that the calm, benevolent presence of the statue would somehow bring a glimmer of peace to the neighborhood. Before long, offerings of flowers, food, and candles appeared at the site. Then, Vietnamese women from the neighborhood began to meet there for morning prayers. “And the neighborhood changed. People stopped dumping garbage. They stopped vandalizing walls with graffiti. And the drug dealers stopped using that area to deal. The prostitutes went away,” says the San Francisco Chronicle. Police crime statistics for the area actually show an 82 percent drop in crime since the women began their morning prayers.

Whether you call it the power of prayer, the power of positive thinking, or the power of peace, this one little statue and this one little gesture has made a big difference in one little neighborhood.

Read the whole story here.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is an incredible story. It makes sense that as soon as people began to “own” this tiny space, it would flourish under their care. As I understand it, Buddhism is not considered a religion in the typical sense of the word, but more of a philosophy of living. Filled with respect, non-violence, simplicity, honoring the earth and others, it must have filled a deep yearning of the neighborhood. People don’t want to live in fear of violence but sometimes their economics prevent moving anywhere better. Once someone had the presence to bring about one small change, the floodgates opened encouraging others to participate. Peace built more peace. This happening, juxtaposed against what is going on in the Middle East, makes it seem like a miracle. I doubt, however, that the radical religious Islamists would settle for anything as open and simple as what happened here. It does speak to the reality that despite our fragmented politics, somethings like what happened are still possible in America. For that, I feel a big sigh of relief and hope we still “get it” here.

  2. What a wonderful uplifting story, thanks MaryJane for sharing this. It’s not the religion -it’s the peace that the Buddha statue exudes. It has brought a whole neighborhood together and made it a better place indeed.

  3. Ron and Elaine Silverman says:


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