Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
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On Saturday March 16, SGI-USA Rocky Mountain Zone youth members organized a "Humanistic Awakening Summit for Peace" at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, USA. The peace summit, open to high school students and members of the public, was attended by some 350 people and featured various workshops aimed at empowering people to become agents of peace and change in their local communities. In April 1999, the Littleton community was devastated by shootings at Columbine High School which cost the lives of 14 students and a teacher.
Reflecting the title and spirit of the summit, SGI's exhibition "Building a Culture of Peace for the Children of the World" was also on display. The exhibition stresses the potential of ordinary individuals to contribute to peace.
Frank DeAngelis, principal of Columbine High School, opened the summit with a keynote address. Mr. DeAngelis, who was principal at the time of the shootings, emphasized that the solution to youth violence does not lie in metal detectors or legislation. First, he said, people must take interest in one another and connect with the person in front of them.
Following the opening, which also included a taiko drum performance by local SGI-USA youth members, participants attended two workshops of their choice. Topics ranged from the role of the individual in halting climate change and the cathartic power of community theater to the prevention of sexual violence, ecological entrepreneurship and urban gardening.
Among groups and individuals that supported the summit by holding workshops were Colorado's PIRG Energy Service Corps (CoPIRG), Rape Assistance and Awareness Program (RAAP), Rock Bottom Farms, Good Food Denver, Jim Walsh of the Romero Theater Troupe, Omar Montgomery, program director of Educational Opportunity Programs at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) and Samantha Miles, a UCD graduate.
SGI-USA youth hosted sessions introducing the humanistic pedagogy of Soka Education, the SGI-USA student group's anti-nuclear weapons campaign "Our New Clear Future" and the SGI-USA Victory Over Violence (VOV) campaign that was initiated in response to the Columbine shootings. There was also a dialogue session with Mr. DeAngelis on his experience surrounding the shootings at his school and the critical challenge of building a culture of hope in today’s society, especially in schools and among young people.
During the opening, Mr. DeAngelis named SGI President Daisaku Ikeda an honorary principal of Columbine High School in recognition of Mr. Ikeda's lifelong commitment to education and the fostering of capable leaders for the future.
[Adapted from an article in the April 5, 2013, issue of World Tribune and reports from SGI-USA; photos courtesy of Rayna Tedford & SGI-USA]
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