Peace and Disarmament
SGI President's 2008 Peace Proposal Discussed at Round Table on Peace in Los Angeles, USA
Every year since 1983, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has submitted a proposal to the United Nations, presenting core Buddhist concepts as a framework for addressing global challenges and realizing human security and world peace. On October 30, 2008, more than 250 people gathered at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, USA, to participate in an academic round table on Mr. Ikeda's 2008 Peace Proposal, "Humanizing Religion, Creating Peace." The event was hosted by USC Peace and Conflict Studies, School of International Relations, and co-sponsored by the USC Center for International Studies, the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, SGI-USA and the SGI-USC Student Club.
The gathering featured a panel of experts, including Douglas Becker, acting director of the USC Peace and Conflict Studies program, and Lawrence E. Carter Sr., dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Christopher Queen, lecturer on the Study of Religion at Harvard University, and Daniel Smith-Christopher, professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, also participated in the round table.
Opening the discussion, Dr. Becker remarked that Mr. Ikeda's peace proposal is fascinating because he speaks about the role of humanism in religion and the role of the individual in making policies in the international sphere. "Rather than focusing necessarily on states or religions as authority structures, it very much redirects our attention to the role of the individual. He's talking about human security versus national security."
In light of worldwide violations of human rights, environmental problems and peace and security issues, Dr. Queen said Mr. Ikeda's call for humanizing religion is his way of proposing that, to a large extent, religion has become part of the problem and that humanity is a way of echoing people's common values. "He wants to reflect that in his essay," Dr. Queen said. "He is being a universal thinker."
Dr. Carter likewise stated that Mr. Ikeda's nonviolent humanism stresses the inner revolution and the personal reformation that come from personal reflection and a world-centric morality, including global citizenship. "This is how he is proposing that we humanize religion, by taking action to introduce a higher morality, to remoralize religion," said Dr. Carter. "And at the heart of all of this is dialogue."
As the final panelist, Dr. Smith-Christopher expressed his admiration for Mr. Ikeda's compassionate spirit and his commitment to the human enterprise. He continued, "As a Christian theologian, I affirm and appreciate his intentions and especially his sense of hope."
[Streaming video of the whole event available on the SGI-USA website at: http://www.sgi-usa.org/newsandevents/peaceproposals.php]
[Adapted from an article in the December 5, 2008 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of Edward Chen]