What Comes After Sept. 23?
At the discussion meeting, we live the SGI’s tradition of treasuring each person.
by Adin Strauss
SGI-USA General Director
Greetings, everyone! I cannot believe that we are just 44 days and counting until the historic 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival. Thank you to all the youth spearheading this fresh and dynamic momentum! I also deeply appreciate the men’s and women’s division members for your dedicated support of the future of our movement!
In recent months, the SGI-USA national leaders have been discussing how to channel the energy and passion of the Lions of Justice campaign into our movement after Sept. 23. We want to make sure that this is not simply an exciting event that recedes the day after. We intend on uniting with all of you in our determination to follow up with each participant in order to help develop the faith of our youth members while deepening our friendships with the guests.
Most importantly, we’d like to bring the youthful passion and power of the 50K movement into each district and revolutionize our discussion meetings.
Let’s celebrate November, the Soka Gakkai’s founding month, with 50,000 people attending discussion meetings—20,000 of whom will be youth!
November marks the 88th-anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding and the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu in Tokyo. We’d like to celebrate these significant dates by achieving record attendance at each discussion meeting, aiming to have 50,000 people of all ages attend the November discussion meetings across the SGI-USA—with 20,000 of them youth! I’d like to ask for the support of our noble men’s and women’s leaders in empowering the youth to plan these meetings, as well as confirming chapter through national youth leaders to serve as the central figures. In doing so, we will take the energy of the September festival right into our neighborhoods and cities all across the country, and enact a great movement of human revolution in the United States.
SGI President Ikeda explains the significance of the Soka Gakkai’s discussion meeting movement:
We don’t speak of the “tradition” of the discussion meeting simply because the pattern of holding such meetings has continued for many years. Rather, with the discussion meeting as the central focus of our activities, we have striven to treasure each person; this spirit to value and respect the individual is the tradition of the SGI. The SGI has unceasingly encouraged people in their ordinary yet valiant struggles. This is the tradition of the discussion meeting. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 2, p. 94)
And, addressing the indispensable role that youth play at discussion meetings, President Ikeda says:
[Second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda was always delighted when he saw young people actively participating in the discussion meetings he attended. “This is a youth discussion meeting! It’s wonderful to see!” he’d exclaim. Everyone is glad when young people are present. It also invigorates our older members. Nothing is as beautiful as young people striving earnestly for their beliefs. They spread refreshing hope throughout their communities. I hope the youth will actively attend their local discussion meetings and that the men’s and women’s division members will do everything they can to support them. (March 14, 2008, World Tribune, p. 2)
We’d like to bring the youthful passion and power of the 50K movement into each district and revolutionize our discussion meetings.
Immediately after the festival, we will initiate a new phase of expanding our movement centered on discussion meetings. I urge the dedicated leaders and members planning these gatherings to unite in front of the Gohonzon to create meetings that are relevant to people of all ages, with the determination to vastly expand attendance of the discussion meetings, especially drawing more young people.
As men’s and women’s leaders, we can start by using our ingenuity to come up with fun, creative ways to inspire the youth to take the lead for kosen-rufu on the front lines. For example, we can initiate forums where youth come together (with chanting, dialogue, food, games, music or performances, etc.) as a means to build camaraderie and trust. Let’s chant and rack our brains to come up with the best way to reach out to young people so that we can ensure solid confirmations for the November discussion meetings, while advancing toward the 50K Festival with the awareness that we are developing an unshakable foundation for the future of American kosen-rufu. Thank you very much!