Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
History & Philosophy
Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
Victory Over Violence (VOV) is a campaign that exists not merely as an opposition to violence, but to educate young people about how to recognize and counteract the root causes of violence in their lives. The campaign was launched by the youth of SGI-USA in 1999, sparked by the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, that year. It is a response to the unacceptable and growing rate of violence involving youth in the United States. Linked to the United Nations “Culture of Peace” initiative, VOV exists for anyone across the globe with even the smallest desire to extinguish the flames of violence in society, in their community and in their own lives.
VOV addresses the root of violence—the misconceptions we have about the value of the person right in front of us and the value of ourselves.
Rooted in the Buddhist principle of respect for the sanctity of life, the VOV campaign has been taken up by SGI youth in countries around the world. Utilizing various resources such as the VOV exhibition, they are educating people in their communities by holding workshops at local venues such as high schools and universities. Through the VOV website, youth around the world are signing up to become VOV ambassadors, sharing their stories and taking the VOV pledge. Right now, VOV is also being incorporated into the iChoose anti-bullying program created by the International Committee of Artists for Peace.
related article Peace Emanates from SGI Youth Events Across the US and Argentina During March, in 25 locations throughout the country, a total of some 12,000 SGI-USA youth members gathered to hold Youth Peace Expos marking March 16, SGI Kosen-rufu Day, and express in various ways their commitment to the dignity of life. Recently, on September 24 and 25, 2013, youth members of SGI-USA together with local youth held an iChoose event at the Prosser Career Academy in Chicago, Illinois. This included a musical production, a panel of youth sharing experiences of how they overcame violence in their lives, and the VOV exhibition. In 2011, with street violence at an all-time high in Chicago, SGI youth embarked on a dialogue campaign, using the VOV exhibition.
As a young man, I take it very personally that the majority of physical violence committed in the United States is perpetrated by male youth. I am committed to stamping out the misconceptions about the value of ourselves and others, starting with the issue of bullying, which SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has called “war in miniature.” I am confident that the earlier we plant the seeds of nonviolence in people’s lives, the better their chances of living a genuinely happy and contributive life.
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by Dennis Lee, director of Program and Community Relations, SSA
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by William Aiken, director of public affairs, SGI-USA