The Power of Raised Voices

The Ikeda Center welcomed nearly 50 Boston-area youth for its third "Dialogue Nights" event of fall 2017.

Encouraging— Boston-area students and young professionals participate in “Dialogue Nights,” a youth dialogue series, at the Ikeda Center, Cambridge, Mass., Dec. 1.

by Mitch Bogen

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Dec. 1—The Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue welcomed nearly 50 Boston-area students and young professionals for its third Dialogue Nights event of fall 2017. Professor Ceasar McDowell of Massachusetts Institute of Technology led everyone in an exploration of “The Power of Raised Voices.”

Employing a unique approach, he facilitated a dialogue about dialogue, or rather, a dialogue about why so many of us are reluctant to engage in the kinds of conversations that are needed to become a healthier, more harmonious society. In our increasingly complex society, said Dr. McDowell, it is vital that we all find ways to articulate our experiences, since this is the first step toward finding common ground with others.

“Our voice resonates with life.
Because this is so,
it can touch the lives of others.”

The evening began with an introduction to SGI President Ikeda’s philosophy of dialogue by Jason Goulah of DePaul University and executive advisor to the Ikeda Center. He shared one quote by President Ikeda in particular that underscored the evening’s theme: “Our voice resonates with life. Because this is so, it can touch the lives of others” (

Dr. McDowell then led a group session designed to help people reflect on the anxieties that hold them back from difficult conversations. What topic, he wondered, would you be reluctant to speak about, right here, right now? The responses ranged from racism, to questions of abuse in the workplace, to personal matters of relationships and religion, and more.

Then participants gathered in small groups to dig deeper, considering why they are reluctant to have that conversation, but also, crucially, why it is important that they do go ahead and have that conversation anyway.

As participants reported back to everyone, it becameclear that this wasn’t the night for the resolution of conflicts but rather, as one young man put it, a night for discovery. Another said that the Ikeda Center is a place for struggling together toward something that is good for us all, something we are all a part of.


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