Peace and Disarmament
SGI-USA and SGI-Canada Members Appeal for Peace in Their Local Communities
SGI members continue to involve themselves in their local communities to spread the message of Victory Over Violence (VOV), a youth-driven initiative begun by SGI-USA youth in 1999 to help young people identify and counteract the root causes of violence in their lives and their communities with a broader goal of creating and sustaining nonviolent cultures.
SGI members in Van Nuys, California, participated in the San Fernando Valley Family Summer Festival on August 23, 2008, sponsored by the Los Angeles 6th Council District. Twelve SGI-USA youth performed a Japanese taiko drum number. Young people also staffed a Victory Over Violence exhibition, engaging local residents in dialogues on fostering intercultural understanding. In the end, some 60 visitors signed the "Victory Over Violence Pledge," which calls on people to value their own lives, respect all life and inspire hope in others. "The key to nonviolence is dialogue," said Rossana Woo, summing up the day's activities. "That is our foundation."
On August 9, more than 280 SGI-USA Chicago members marched in the 79th Annual Bud Billiken Parade, highlighted by 20 youth performing an original hip-hop number called "Victory Over Violence" atop a float, as thousands of parade-goers joined the chorus refrain: Stop the violence. Illiana Region Men's Vice Leader John Wells, who drove this year's float, said, "This is our opportunity to reply to SGI President [Daisaku] Ikeda's promise to build a society truly worthy of [a child's] love and pride." With a concern for black youth, Chicago Defender newspaper founder Robert Abbot and editor Lucius Harper created the Bud Billiken Club, monikered after the founder's nickname "Bud" and "Billiken," an ancient Chinese mythical character believed to be the guardian angel of all children. With the club's rise in popularity, Mr. Abbot initiated the Bud Billiken Parade in August 1929 to celebrate the diversity of Chicago's children. The event is the largest African American parade in the USA and has a viewing audience of tens of millions worldwide.
Across the border in Toronto, Canada, local SGI-Canada members were invited to participate in the annual Malton Community Festival on July 5. The SGI-Canada Niagara Chorus performed three songs to open the outdoor program. The "Victory Over Violence" exhibition was displayed during the event, especially timely due to a recent shooting in the area.
[Adapted from articles in the August 29 and September 19, 2008 issues of the World Tribune, SGI-USA, and an article in the August 2008, Issue 035 of SGI Canada News, SGI-Canada. Photo credit: Van Nuys--Sylvia Carmona; Chicago--Laura Hamm Goetschel; Malton--SGI-Canada]