Peace and Disarmament
Celebrating Peace in Hawaii with the Spirit of Aloha
In Hawaii, "aloha" is the spirit of joyfully sharing life, a peaceful expression of living in harmony with ourselves and the world around us. On September 23 and October 6, SGI members in Hawaii co-organized peace events celebrating the annual United Nations International Day of Peace (September 21) and SGI World Peace Day (October 2) respectively.
On September 23, representatives of the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa), the Zhou Enlai Peace Institute and the SGI-USA gathered at UH Manoa's Oahu Urban Garden Center in Pearl City to celebrate the UN International Day of Peace. This year's event, themed "Peace Day Hawaii: Uniting with Aloha," featured a ground-breaking ceremony for a permanent peace garden and pathway, with plots dedicated to former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, his wife, Deng Ying Chao and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. Some 370 people attended the celebrations, including author and educator Maya Soetoro-Ng who served as keynote speaker. There were also musical performances, speeches, and recognition of the local winners of SGI-USA’s Distinguished Peacemaker Award.
In honor of the peace garden dedication, Xiao Fang Zhou, founder of the Zhou Enlai Peace Institute and grand-niece of the former Chinese Premier, noted that the gathering was significant in that it took place near Pearl Harbor and, some seven decades later, it was celebrating the enduring efforts of Premier Zhou and Mr. Ikeda to create a peaceful world. She added that the spirit of aloha is a powerful instrument in that regard, because it represents the spirit to connect one's heart to another's.
On October 6, SGI-USA held its 3rd World Peace Festival in Hawaii, in partnership with Hawaii County, the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association and the International Committee of Artists for Peace. The event commemorated SGI World Peace Day on October 2. On that day in 1960, Mr. Ikeda embarked on his first overseas journey (touching down first in Hawaii), marking a significant milestone in the international development of Nichiren Buddhism and the SGI.
The festival was attended by 1,200 people including County of Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi. The celebrations included various musical and dance performances and a special guest appearance by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter John Cruz.
[Adapted from articles in the October 12, 2012, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA and the October 14, 2012, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of the World Tribune]