50K Festival

The Mission of 50,000 Lions of Justice

Generating waves of dynamic, shared action

Photo by EGON69 / GETTY IMAGES.


GOAL

At the Lions of Justice Festival on Sept. 23, young people from all backgrounds will gather in nine U.S. cities to stand up for the dignity of life—to proclaim that all people are worthy of respect and must be treated with the dignity they deserve.

Through musical performances, films, inspiring speakers and shared experiences of youth taking action in their daily lives to transform society, we will affirm our determination to make the 21st century one of lasting peace.

WHAT IS A LION OF JUSTICE?

A Lion of Justice is someone who courageously faces and overcomes any obstacle that stands between themselves and their dreams; fearlessly challenges the ways of thinking that justify hate, violence and discrimination; and can joyfully unite with people of all walks of life toward developing a society based on the happiness of all people. To develop into this kind of person and never give up in the face of opposition can be a challenge. Therefore, we must be like a roaring lion, unbending in the face of obstacles and naysayers.

BACKGROUND

The currents of society have taken an unfortunate turn in the direction of division and isolation. Many are polarized politically, suspicious of those who are different and take refuge in social media bubbles. Looming over this are nuclear weapons, which threaten the right of all people to exist.

On June 5, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel released a joint statement (see pp. 6–7) appealing to the youth of the world to unite and work to develop solutions to the many problems plaguing the world. Citing grave threats to peace, they wrote:

The threat of nuclear weapons, the increasing number of refugees driven from their homes by armed conflict, extreme weather events caused by climate change, the greed of financial speculators that aggravates the gap between rich and poor . . . Underneath these problems lies an unrestrained vying for military, political and economic supremacy that casts dark shadows over our common home, our planet Earth.

What is at the root of these problems? Buddhist philosophy teaches that social ills stem from the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance that exist in the hearts of all people. About these poisons, they continue in their statement: Eastern philosophy teaches that such benightedness is generated by three negative impulses: greed driven by runaway egotism, anger that gives rise to hatred and conflict with others, and ignorance that causes us to lose our sense of direction in life and society.

So what is the solution to these social ills? The answer is for people from diverse backgrounds to stand up in solidarity with the awareness that all life is precious and that the solution lie in directly confronting the greed, anger and ignorance that lies within people’s hearts. In their appeal, Dr. Ikeda and Dr. Esquivel state in part:

We direct our call to the young people of the world. There is no challenge that cannot be resolved if we unite in solidarity. We are confident that young people will take up the search for solutions, acting in solidarity from within their respective places of belonging across all differences of spiritual and cultural identity to generate waves of dynamic shared action.

We, the youth of the Soka Gakkai International-USA, take pride in the origin of our movement, with founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s struggle against the oppression of the Japanese militarist government during World War II. Mr. Makiguchi was jailed for his pacifist beliefs and eventually died in prison as a martyr. Our legacy of countering authoritarianism and empowering common people inspired us to initiate this festival, where we will express the passion and power of youth to transform society for the better and achieve personal happiness. We hope to powerfully echo Dr. Ikeda’s and Dr. Esquivel’s appeal when they declare: We call on the young people of the world to unite to meet the challenges confronting humankind, to be the authors of their own lives and of the history of the new century. Our hope is infinite because we believe that youth will know how to resolve the many diverse planetary challenges in solidarity. We direct this message to young people, in whom we place our total confidence.

On Sept. 23, 50,000 youth in America will declare: Enough is enough! Now is the time to create a society based on hope and respect!