Are You Ready to Become a Soka Victory District?
The World Tribune spoke with newly appointed district men’s and women’s leaders Mike O’Malley and Liz Nobukuni about how each of their districts achieved the qualifications to be named a Soka Victory District at their February discussion meetings. Mr. O’Malley and Ms. Nobukuni recently graduated from the youth division.
World Tribune: Congratulations on your districts qualifying as Soka Victory districts. What were some keys to this accomplishment?
Mike O’Malley (Union Square District men’s leader, New York City): For Union Square District, our growth has been fueled by great discussion meetings and personally home visiting and encouraging the members. Great discussion meetings equal shakubuku. If the meeting is joyful
and warm, guests will want to join.
Liz Nobukuni (Brentwood District women’s leader, Santa Monica, Calif.): Yes, the spirit of joyful propagation is key. In Brentwood District, two young women joined the SGI at our commemorative February discussion meeting.
Right before receiving the Gohonzon, one of them, Brittany, shared her determination to grow as an educator through her newfound Buddhist practice. She also gave an experience of how the power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo led to her mom finding a great surgeon who could successfully remove her brain tumor. This brought so much joy, inspiration and hope to the members—many of whom are going through their own personal struggles.
WT: What else do you think contributes to a great discussion meeting?
O’Malley: I think it’s also important to share our breakthroughs at discussion meetings. When I became the district men’s leader, I centered my prayer on the determination: “I want everyone in the district to get benefits!” Many sincere members are going through difficult problems in life, and I want them to feel that our district is the warm place that lights up their lives, where they can get the encouragement they need to go back out and win in our difficult world.
I also chant with the feeling that each district member is like my family member. If members can feel this when I interact with them, it will build trust. During my home visits, I learn what challenges they are going through, whether it is looking for work, relationship struggles, etc. Knowing this helps deepen my belief that “our district exists for the happiness of the members.”
WT: What do you keep in mind when you visit members?
Nobukuni: A senior in faith once shared that when we go on home visits, it’s important to first establish a sense of equality.
Through SGI President Ikeda’s example of giving personal encouragement to members, I also try impart three things: 1) great conviction in the power of the Gohonzon, 2) the greatness of the mentor-disciple relationship and 3) their unique mission for kosen-rufu that only they can fulfill.
This is the spirit my district co-leaders and I try to impart in each of our interactions with the members, especially in our efforts to foster the youth. As equals, we empower them to take the lead. At our March study meeting, for instance, the youth district leaders led gongyo and did emcee, and two new youth members shared an experience and led The New Human Revolution study presentation.
O’Malley: This point about equality and respect is crucial. As a district leader, I realize that creating unity and heart-to-heart bonds with my co-leaders is much more important than having “the perfect plan” for our meetings. By being open, understanding and having appreciation for my district co-leaders—truly heroes of kosen-rufu, who take incredible actions for the members’ happiness amid their own busy lives—we have been able to unite and achieve amazing results. President Ikeda says, “Unity is power and that is why the Soka Gakkai is strong” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 5, p. 224).
Fighting for kosen-rufu in the district makes me happy in a deep way that is hard to describe. I really feel that my district co-leaders and the members are my family.
We still have many things we want to accomplish this year! But we will fight all the way to report great victories to President Ikeda, so we can continue to show our appreciation for the amazing efforts he’s made for kosen-rufu in America for the past 59 years. Thank you, Sensei! WT
Soka Victory District
A district that has met the following four benchmarks will be recognized as a Soka Victory District this year:
• 20 members and guests attend discussion meetings at least two times during the year.
• 20 subscribers to the SGI-USA publications.
• 2 people receive the Gohonzon and start practicing Nichiren Buddhism.
• 7 sustaining financial contributors.