Peace and Disarmament
SGI-USA Youth Support Local Peace Event in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
On July 1, 2008, more than 125 people attended the opening ceremony for the exhibition "A World Free From Nuclear Weapons Is Possible" at the Lesley University Hall Atrium in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. The Peaceable Schools Summer Institute at Lesley University and the City of Cambridge Peace Commission cosponsored the event with the support of local SGI-USA youth.
Kevin Maher, SGI-USA Boston Region young men's leader, welcomed the gathering of peace activists and explained the SGI's grassroots activities that promote peace, culture and education in collaboration with educational institutions and other nongovernmental organizations. Mr. Maher told the audience that the SGI youth's commitment to peace and dialogue is inspired by the work of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda who, as a peacebuilder, Buddhist leader, writer, educator and poet, has devoted his life to establishing a culture of peace.
Mr. Maher closed his remarks with a passage from Mr. Ikeda's September 2006 opinion editorial in The Japan Times:
"If we are to eliminate nuclear weapons, a fundamental transformation of the human spirit is essential. Since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than 60 years ago, the survivors have transformed despair into a sense of mission as they have continued to call out for nuclear abolition."
Steven Leeper, chairman of the Hiroshima Peace and Culture Foundation, underscored the tremendous urgency for eliminating nuclear weapons. He stressed that citizens must work to transform our civilization of war into a civilization of love.
Keynote speaker, Natsumi Nagao, illuminated this point, as she recounted in graphic detail her personal experience as a young girl burned during the Hiroshima bombing.
The audience listened in stunned silence to Ms. Nagao's story, and it stirred many of the participants to support the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation's drive to collect signatures for its "Cities are Not Targets" petition to be submitted to the United Nations.
The serious nature of the conference echoed Mr. Ikeda's words from another opinion editorial from the April 12, 2007 issue of The Japan Times: "The inner transformation resulting from a single person's human revolution holds such hope.... This is a revolution that starts here, now in the heart of every one of us."
[Adapted from an article in the July 11, 2008 issue of The World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of The World Tribune]