Peace and Disarmament

Back to listApr 4, 2009

SGI-USA Student Club Hosts Symposium on Humanitarian Competition at University of Pennsylvania, USA

On April 4, 2009, the SGI-USA student club at the University of Pennsylvania hosted a symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's 27th annual peace proposal, "Toward Humanitarian Competition: A New Current in History." Some 30 participants gathered at Jon M. Huntsman Hall on the university campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, to hear a presentation on the annual proposal, which is circulated among opinion leaders, including UN officials.

090404x_phil_stud.jpg Guest speakers Stephen Glassman (far left) and Karen Lewis (left) speak to seminar participants

University of Pennsylvania students Nobu Hiroi, Amy Vittor and Anthony Leem, Temple University undergraduate Lisa Howe and Jefferson Medical College student Isamu Yoshioka presented an overview of the proposal, which questions humanity's abstract love of money, calls for a focus on the real needs of real people and emphasizes strengthening social safety nets.

To resolve the crisis of capitalism, Mr. Ikeda, in his peace proposal, calls for a paradigm shift to humanitarian competition--a concept first proposed by founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, in which nations and individuals compete to contribute the most to global society.

This introduction set the framework for guest speakers Karen Lewis, Sondheimer Professor in International Economics and Finance and co-director of the Weiss Center for International Financial Research at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Stephen Glassman, chairperson of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Mr. Glassman said that implementing an idea is far different from embracing one. To implement the peace proposal, he said, people need to better understand how they can engage in sharing ideas. Toward that end, Mr. Glassman said that his personal hope is to help individuals appreciate who they are in the context of a larger humanity.

Dr. Lewis posed the question, "How do we move forward?" Mr. Ikeda, she said, asserts that competition in and of itself is fine, but it needs to be motivated by humanitarian results. Dr. Lewis also commented that she's encountered both students and teachers who are looking at new career options, particularly in the nonprofit sector, as they rethink their impact on the world. She said she herself will take a research sabbatical next year to investigate the World Bank's role in creating microfinance sectors in developing markets. Dr. Lewis also stated she was inspired to discover how economics and her role as an economist can better serve the world, based on her reading of Mr. Ikeda's 2009 peace proposal.

[Adapted from an article in the May 8, 2009 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of Jonathan Wilson]