50K Countdown: 156 Days!
Addressing commonly asked questions about the Sept 23 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival.
How can we engage every member in the 50,000 Lions of Justice Campaign?
David Witkowski(SGI-USA Youth Leader): First, I’d like to express our deepest appreciation to all the
SGI-USA members who’ve been making tremendous efforts to register youth toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival. On April 2, the 60th anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s passing, we surpassed 6,000 youth registrations.
SGI President Ikeda was overjoyed by this news and immediately sent a message, saying: “I heard that you surpassed 6,000 registrations to participate in the festival. Thank you for working so hard. I am very happy to hear how you are advancing. Please give my best regards to all SGI-USA youth division members.”
During the Osaka Campaign of 1956, President Ikeda prayed that every member would become a protagonist and an ally for victory. His conviction came from the belief that anyone, by making efforts in propagation, would absolutely transform their deepest karma and cut out the root of misery in their lives.
In like manner, it starts with our determination that every SGI-USA member in our organization will participate in our movement toward the 50K Festival to transform their own deepest karma by awakening one Lion of Justice and establishing their “Squad of 6” friends to bring to the festival.
Olivia Saito (SGI-USA Young Women’s Leader): Practically speaking, chapter men’s and women’s leaders can review the
weekly SGI-USA 50K registration reports together with their youth co-leaders and district leaders. From there, each week, they can identify which youth have not registered, and create an action plan for how to best encourage them.
How do we ensure our members over the age of 39 don’t feel neglected since they cannot attend the festival?
Mike O’Malley (SGI-USA Young Men’s Leader): Awakening the youth to their great mission for kosen-rufu is the greatest source of encouragement for oneself and others. That is the beauty of our campaign; it’s the movement of each individual fighting for the happiness of the youth who will lead kosen-rufu into the future.
Soka Gakkai founding President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi would often use the expression “we youth,” counting himself among them. President Ikeda writes of this: “He always took the lead in efforts to share Buddhism with others, devoting himself to the happiness of the people . . . The way he lived his life should inspire all of us, his disciples of the present day, to renew our determination to keep our fighting spirit burning brightly throughout our lives” (January 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 41).
David: On the day of the festival, Sept. 23, the reality is that many youth leaders will be supporting the festival from behind the scenes and be unable to sit in the venue. That said, more than ever, we will be relying on the support of the men’s and women’s division members through their efforts to reconfirm the youth participants and help arrange transportation movements. In a sense, it will be the men’s and women’s division members acting as the core youth leaders to ensure the total success of the 50K Festival!
What are some points to focus on when promoting the 50K Festival to our friends?
Olivia: In September 1957, President Toda made a declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. On that day, 50,000 youth gathered at Mitsuzawa Stadium to hear him speak. That was the beginning of the SGI’s peace activism. In the same spirit, our 50K Festival is a declaration against the lack of respect for the dignity of life rampant throughout the world.
Also, because we have close to 50,000 youth members in the SGI-USA, our efforts will serve as a powerful member care campaign to reach out to all the youth and encourage them, once again, about the greatness of their lives.
What kind of content can we expect at the festival?
Mike: Our festival will include many new and exciting elements. Our Ikeda Youth Ensemble members are gearing up for performances unlike anything we’ve ever seen in our organization’s history. Our video production team is working on fresh and inspiring content. We’re pulling out all the stops to make this a world-class event.
Can you clarify the $20 registration fee?
David: Since the nine festival locations will be at professional venues that are used for large-scale concerts and sports events, we cannot operate on a confirmation system solely based on verbal or text confirmation. We want to ensure that everyone has a seat on the day of the event.
The money itself will go to memorabilia that each participant will receive to commemorate that day.
In encouraging our members to register, ultimately the question is: Are we ourselves convinced that this festival will have a profound effect on their lives and serve as one of the greatest opportunities to make a vow together with Sensei for the peaceful future of humanity? Fundamentally this campaign is enabling each of us to dig deeper in doing our human revolution.