Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
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Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
The SGI-affiliated Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research held a senior research fellows meeting and a workshop on music and peacebuilding in Istanbul, Turkey, prior to the 25th International Peace Research Association (IPRA) General Conference held there in mid-August.
At the senior research fellows meeting, held from August 8 to 9, topics discussed included the war in Syria, the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the situations in Iraq, Ukraine and East Asia. The researchers highlighted the role that civil society movements had played in rousing an international call for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence in response to these conflicts. They also emphasized that the prime goal of governments should be the relief of people’s suffering.
On August 10, some 20 researchers and peace activists from 5 continents attended the “Music and Peacebuilding” workshop organized by the Toda Institute. In his speech, Dr. Olivier Urbain, director of the Toda Institute, characterized music as a force for peace because it has the ability to embrace all people equally, to provide a forum for bringing people together and inspiration for them to overcome conflicts.
Concurring with Dr. Urbain, speakers Rik Palieri, a US folk singer, and Yair Dalal, an oud player and singer from the Middle East, spoke of their efforts to promote peace through music.
Mr. Palieri, who played with internationally-known folk singer and peace activist Pete Seeger in the 1970s, performed in remembrance of Mr. Seeger who passed away in January 2014.
Tokyo Fuji Art Museum:
Creating Peace through Culture by Akira Gokita, Japan Akira Gokita, director of the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, describes the museum’s development from one man’s vision of art as a vehicle to unite people in their humanity and a force for peace. Koji Ikoma, representing the SGI-affiliated Min-On Concert Association (Min-On), also spoke, describing Min-On’s efforts to promote peace through musical and cultural exchanges across borders since its founding some 50 years ago.
Toda Institute Secretary-General Kevin Clements and Dr. Urbain also spoke at the IPRA General Conference held from August 11 to 15 at the Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center. The conference, titled “Uniting for Peace: Building Sustainable Peace Through Universal Values,” was attended by some 500 researchers including peace studies pioneer Johan Galtung, founder of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).
Professor Clements’ keynote speech focused on the cost of violence and the benefits of peace, and Dr. Urbain spoke on the role of music and song in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and its role in the restoration of a sense of Hawaiian identity in indigenous people there.
[Adapted from a report from the Toda Institute and articles in the August 14 and 19, 2014, issues of Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]
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