Peace and Disarmament
Two SGI-USA Youth Bring Peace Exhibitions to Their High School
Two young men, also cousins, have stood up against violence following a fatal shooting of a classmate and a simultaneous beating just outside their high school in Chicago, USA, in early March 2008. This was the 18th student killed in the city since September 2007. With the support of their aunt and friends, Marrell Mitchell and Tywon Tunstall brought the exhibitions "Gandhi, King, Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace" (GKI) and SGI-USA youth's "Victory Over Violence" (VOV) to Chicago's Crane Tech Prep High School on May 14.
During one of two student body assemblies coinciding with the exhibitions, SGI-USA Vice General Director Phyllis Goodson told the students, "No one else is going to come to Crane and give you peace. You have to do it because this is your home."
To mark the opening of the exhibitions, Crane Tech Principal Richard Smith named SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and Mrs. Kaneko Ikeda honorary principals for "being the living embodiment of courage, peace and compassion as showcased in the Gandhi, King, Ikeda exhibition."
The school also named Lawrence Carter, dean of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College, honorary principal. Dr. Carter initiated the GKI exhibition in 2001 to showcase the lives and works of the three peace heroes as a means to inspire people to create peace in their daily lives.
In 1999, in response to a rise in youth-initiated violence and in particular the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, SGI-USA youth members launched their VOV campaign that includes the exhibition, workshop and dialogue materials which help participants identify and counteract root causes of violence, as well as a VOV pledge, which the Crane students were encouraged to sign.
The VOV pledge states:
I will value my own life. Recognizing that a lack of self-identity and hope for the future lay at the roots of all violence, I will reach beyond my limitations, taking concrete steps each day to uncover my real potential. I will never give up on my dreams, even if they seem impossible.
I will respect all life. Recognizing that violence comes in many forms, I will not isolate myself but will create an environment where others feel comfortable and can be themselves. I will see beyond superficial differences and reflect on my own behavior.
I will inspire hope in others. With courage, I will resolutely stand up against violence, be it verbal, physical or passive and teach others through my own example. I will support others and encourage them to follow their dreams.
[Adapted from an article in the May 30, 2008 issue of The World Tribune, SGI-USA]