Feature

An Event You Don't Want to Miss!

Be a part of history on September 23.

Photo by ADITYA CHINCHURE / UNSPLASH.


From the U.S. Civil Rights Movement to anti-war protests to environmental justice, youth have consistently served as the power source for change in our country and the world.
In just nine days, and amid ever-deepening division, isolation and violence in American society, 50,000 young people from unimaginably diverse backgrounds will come together in solidarity for the Lions of Justice Festival, being held in nine U.S. cities, to take a stand for the dignity of life, and to pledge to be the agents of change that will move our country in the direction of humanism and peace.

In a joint statement, SGI President Ikeda and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel appealed to the youth of the world to unite and commit themselves to working with the world’s people to develop solutions to the protracted problems plaguing our world, and to usher in a new dawn of hope.

It is in this spirit that these youth will rise up to build a new world of justice and solidarity. This festival is not only a watershed moment in the history of kosen-rufu in America, but also the impetus for lasting change in our society and the world.

President Ikeda, the Buddhist philosopher, educator and peacebuilder, who has worked without pause for seven decades to bring humanity together, has said that “peace is always a competition between resignation and hope” (Sept. 28, 2007, World Tribune, p. 2).

On Sept. 23, we choose hope.

Will Moody, New Orleans
Ikeda Youth Ensemble Chorus Leader

Recently, after years of fighting to find my mission, I received an unexpected opportunity as an assistant teacher for a kindergarten. I never imagined I could do something like this, and it’s become my sincere prayer that every member who is making great causes toward the 50K Festival experiences personal victories, as well.

For our chorus group, the men’s division members drove youth eight hours from New Orleans to Atlanta for a rehearsal. When we arrived in the wee hours of the morning, the local members were chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to ensure our safe arrival. Receiving such tremendous support, we are absolutely determined to touch each youth’s heart with our performance, so they too, become allies for peace.

This movement has strengthened my belief in the potential of my own life, and more so, that of others. I now know that I want to pursue further education, peace studies and build bridges of friendship.

 

 

 

Aki Takahashi, Minneapolis
Midwest Zone Byakuren Leader

Our zone encompasses nine states in the midwest, and the young women supporting the 50K Festival as Byakuren are traveling long distances to Chicago.
Despite geographic and financial challenges, no one is begrudging their responsibility.

We are determined to unite based on prayer and excited to realize brilliant achievements toward 50K. Welcoming and supporting the members on behalf of my mentor, SGI President Ikeda, pushes me beyond my own doubts and weaknesses.

No matter how impossible things seem, I know that, through this process of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, reaffirming what I’m fighting for and winning over deadlock, I am laying the foundation for the next chapter in my life. I’m determined to complete my doctoral program in Comparative International Development Education by 2020!

 

 

 

 

Betsy Eppsteiner, Naples, Fla.
Caribbean Region Leader

n a recent visit to Jamaica, I met youth who were denied visas and struggled with traveling costs for the 50K event. The obstacles they’re experiencing are beyond our imagination. Still, they shared how the Lions of Justice Festival was going to be a turning point for their lives, and how they will never give up.

After encouraging them wholeheartedly, I realized that in order to support them, I have to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo more than ever before. September is hurricane season for our area. The effort to unite with the prayers of all of SGI-USA—100 percent success of 50K, which includes great weather and no accidents—is very serious.

We must guarantee victory. Victory for us means that the youth will never be defeated by their obstacles.

 

 

Fabian Arroyo, Goodyear, Ariz.
West Phoenix Chapter Men’s Leader

My mother, who was the first person to practice in our family, despite her illness, extended her life and encouraged hundreds of SGI mem-bers. To repay my debt of gratitude to SGI President Ikeda and honor my mother’s life, I realized I had to do exactly what they had done—help others become happy.

Although I’m challenging many things in my daily life, I’m chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo more than ever, hosting meetings, home visiting youth every day and fighting for recon-
firmations. I’ll also be supporting as security for the festival.

Through these efforts behind the scenes, my work has become stable, I’m growing wiser and our chapter surpassed our registration goal. I’m learning that nothing is impossible when we strive with a mentor that encourages us to do our human revolution and shift our attitude toward everyone’s happiness.

(pp. 6-7)