Peace and Disarmament
Victory Over Violence in New Jersey and Indiana, USA
On May 21, 2008, Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey, USA, hosted a conference titled "Inspiring Civility on Campus," featuring the SGI-USA "Victory Over Violence" (VOV) exhibition. The event marked the anniversary of the tragic shootings in April 2007 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.
More than 90 faculty, staff, students and invited guests attended the conference, which illustrated the need to foster civility on campus and in the world. "Victory Over Violence" is an SGI-USA youth-sponsored initiative that began in 1999 in response to a rise in youth-related violence. The exhibition is designed to help youth identify and counteract the root causes of violence in their lives.
Susan Baechtel, spokeswoman for Bergen Community College, called the exhibition "absolutely outstanding." "It definitely deeply impacted our students from an emotional standpoint," Ms. Baechtel said. "It allowed them to take a step back and be more reflective about what's really important in this world."
On June 2, in Gary, Indiana, over 300 people attended the "Victory Over Violence Safe Schools/Safe Community Forum," a collaborative effort to counteract and eliminate all forms of violence, held at the Gary Area Career Center.
The event, cosponsored by SGI-USA, Morehouse College, the City of Gary and the Gary Community School Corporation, represented an opportunity for students, parents, educators, civic and community leaders, religious organizations, law enforcement and public health officials to share ideas and develop a plan of action for making Gary a safe place to live and work.
Students toured the Morehouse College exhibition "Gandhi, King, Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace" and the SGI-USA "Victory Over Violence" panels which were on display at the forum. The students also joined in reciting the VOV pledge, which calls upon people to value their lives, respect all life and inspire hope in others.
"The 'Gandhi, King, Ikeda' and 'Victory Over Violence' exhibitions provide us with an opportunity to help each individual create peace," said Dr. Mary Steele-Agee, superintendent of Gary Community School Corporation. Dr. Steele-Agee and Nellie Moore, president of the corporation's board of trustees, also expressed their thanks to SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and Lawrence Carter Sr., dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel at Morehouse College, for their unique and innovative views about courage, peace and compassion.
[Adapted from articles in the June 20, 2008 issue of The World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of The World Tribune]