Peace Scholar Kevin Clements Gives Lecture on Nonviolence in Tokyo

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Kevin ClementsProfessor Kevin Clements

On November 13, a lecture addressing Japan’s need to choose peace was given at Shinjuku Meiji-Yasuda Life Hall in Tokyo by Professor Kevin Clements, renowned peace scholar, director of the New Zealand National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand and secretary general of the Soka Gakkai-affiliated Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research.

In his lecture, titled “The Costs of Violence and the Benefits of Building a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence,” Professor Clements cited SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s words about nonviolence: “The real struggle of the 21st century will not be between civilizations, nor between religions. It will be between violence and nonviolence. It will be between barbarity and civilization in the truest sense of the word.”

Emphasizing Gandhi’s view that poverty is the worst form of violence, he stressed that we must ensure the reallocation of resources from the military to areas such as health care. He shared the results of a global study on the economic impact of violence that showed the cost of violence was estimated to be $9.8 trillion in 2013. That is 11.3 percent of the gross world product and equivalent to around $1,350 per person.

related article Compassion and a Culture of Peace Compassion and a Culture of Peace by Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International This text is taken from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's 2013 Peace Proposal, "Compassion, Wisdom and Courage: Building a Global Society of Peace and Creative Coexistence." In these excerpts he discusses the central Buddhist values of compassion and respect for the inherent dignity of life, with particular reference to the sudden devastation inflicted by natural and social disasters. In ancient Professor Clements also highlighted the danger of responding to feelings of vulnerability with nationalism and pointed out that individual citizens need to focus government attention on priorities that satisfy real needs rather than phantom fears. “In an interdependent world . . . we need to care for others whether they wish to harm us or not. We need to accord them dignity, and build our security in compassionate relationships—both at the interpersonal and transnational levels,” he said.

Additionally, Professor Clements expressed his concern over recent moves in Japan to reinterpret the constitution, stating that such moves are a challenge to regional and global peace.

In broad terms, he encouraged each individual to play a role in building a society of peace and nonviolence and develop necessary skills such as critical thinking, the ability to argue effectively, and the ability to challenge injustice and inequality. “We need explicit political commitments to nonviolence as a way of life and support for state pacifism,” he said.

Professor Clements concluded with a quote from John Paul Lederach’s book “The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace”:

Reach out to those you fear.

Touch the heart of complexity.

Imagine beyond what is seen.

Risk vulnerability one step at a time.

[Compiled from reports from the Soka Gakkai International Office of Public Information (SGI-OPI)]

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