On Saturday March 10, 2001, I participated in World Peace through Human Revolution at the SGI-USA Santa Barbara Community Center. The event exposed attendees to Buddhist practices and allowed local non-profit organizations the opportunity to discuss our respective missions and programs with SGI members and event participants. Event organizers treated participants to a historical overview of Buddhism, brief discussion of the main figures who shaped present day Soka Gakkai International, and recitation of the Lotus Sutra. The program debuted Changing Society by Changing Ourselves, a captivating visual chronicle of the major figures and events shaping war and peace in the 20th century. Talented SGI members not only showcased their theatrical skills through a skit entitled Changing Poison to Medicine, which portrayed a day in the life a young women in the process of changing her life for the better by overcoming greed, foolishness, and anger, but also their musical skills through an inspirational piece combining turntable, spoken word, and vocal stylings. Many participants experienced the Victory Over Violence exhibit, learning whether it was their first time or viewing the exhibit as a reminder of our need to wage peace. Also, Nonviolence International Founder and local high school educator, Leah Wells, donated her own facilitation skills to a workshop on conflict resolution. Initiated and led by students, World Peace through Human Revolution relayed Gandhi’s message of be(ing) the change that you want to see in the world. I commend all of those who contributed to the success of the afternoon festivities.
The video Changing Society by Changing Ourselves features Foundation President David Krieger. Video narrators reiterate his belief that the collaborative and organizational efforts among those of us working to affirm and expand the just and humane components of our society must equal and exceed the efforts among individuals, organizations, and corporations organized around preparing for and mounting war. This concept remains a rallying point today! Case in point – approximately three years ago, SGI youth collected 13 million signatures from Japanese citizens calling for both an international treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons within a fixed time period and for the reallocation of resources from military purposes to social services. David Krieger accepted the signatures on behalf of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons at a ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Being that the United States is twice the size of Japan, I believe it is possible to collect 26 million signatures through our current Appeal to End the Nuclear Threat to Humanity. Please join with me and voice our commitment to transforming society for the better starting with ourselves.
*Michael Coffey is the Youth Outreach Coordinator for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.