Let's Reconfirm 50,000!
The key to victory is to ensure that every Lions of Justice registrant attends this historic festival.
Never Giving Up On a Single Lion!
by SGI-USA Youth Leaders
David Witkowski, Olivia Saito and Mike O’Malley
Hello, fellow SGI-USA members and friends! We are happy to report that we have surpassed 50,000 registered participants
for the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival. Thank you very much for all of your efforts! In a message responding to this achievement, SGI President Ikeda wrote: “Congratulations! How great!” He also asked the men’s and women’s division members, “Please continue supporting all the youth.”
We are now in the final stretch of promotion, with registration closing on Sept. 9. The festival is fast approaching, and we have been focusing our efforts on reconnecting with members who have not been able to attend an SGI activity in recent months or years.
Of course, the actual festival with 50,000 or more youth in attendance will be an unprecedented historic achievement, but more importantly, many youth division members have reactivated their Buddhist practice as a result of being invited to the festival.
We have been hearing reports around the country of youth who were contacted for the first time in a long time, expressing that they were just thinking about wanting to restart their Buddhist practice. A number of these youth had been deeply suffering—some even contemplating suicide—when an SGI member stopped by their home to drop off a note or gift for them. There are certainly cases where some youth aren’t interested in practicing Buddhism, but appreciate the friendship of SGI members and would like to attend the festival.
The causes we make to reach out to all youth will definitely manifest in awakening their Buddha nature.
Throughout this campaign, we have been inspired by SGI President Ikeda’s essay “Expanding the Ranks of Our Youth,” where he discusses his strategy in expanding his organization when he was a young men’s leader in 1953. Describing the condition of his organization when he first took leadership,
Many new members were quickly leaving the organization; all the efforts involved in introducing them to Nichiren Buddhism were negated by the poor follow-up in providing them the necessary encouragement and guidance in the early stages of their practice . . .
Every young person who decides to start practicing Nichiren Buddhism does so out of a serious interest in learning about the philosophy. Those who left so soon had not yet had the chance to experience the wonderful benefits of the Mystic Law. They hadn’t learned about our remarkable teacher, Josei Toda. And they didn’t have a chance to learn of the profound mission of the Soka Gakkai youth division. For them to stop practicing without knowing any of this was, I felt, a tragedy. (July 2016 Living Buddhism, pp. 13–14)
Toward the Lions of Justice Festival and beyond, we are determined to reach out to and reconnect with every youth division member in our statistics.
The causes we make to reach out to all youth will definitely manifest in awakening their Buddha nature. Sometimes this happens immediately, and at other times, the effects will not manifest until several months or even years later. But the bottom line is that they will definitely reawaken their Buddha nature at some point. Not only will this benefit the person we are reaching out to, but the member reaching out also implants good fortune in their lives. President Ikeda has said about this:
When one person finally stands up in faith, those who rejoice the most and receive the greatest benefit are that person’s friends, the people who have cared, chanted and done everything to support that person. Whatever we do for kosen-rufu, for our friends and for others returns to us as our own happiness and good fortune. That is the Buddhist principle of cause and effect. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 16, p. 14)
Together, let’s use the Lions of Justice Festival as a great opportunity to continue reaching out to old friends, never giving up on them and expanding our network of Bodhisattvas of the Earth!
Reconfirmation in 4 Steps
1. Confirm each registrant by phone call or visit, using a clearly established contact person:
a. Active members should be reconfirmed by their leaders.
b. “Squad members,” including friends, relatives and inactive members, should be reconfirmed by the contact person who initially confirmed them.
c. During the call or visit, communicate that electronic tickets will be sent via email in early September.
2. Once the tickets have been sent, confirm that all registrants have received their electronic ticket.
3. Confirm that all registrants have transportation to the venue.
4. Confirm the primary contact for each guest.
(see Aug. 17, 2018, World Tribune, pp. 6–7)
World-Class Festival Production
The SGI-USA is working with Diversified Production Services (DPS) for the festival’s production and lighting design. DPS has received accolades for their work around the world, and is currently an industry leader in the development and execution of event productions. It has worked on notable events such as The Concert for New York City 9/11, The Global Citizen Festival and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th Anniversary, and with major artists such as Beyoncé, Jay Z, Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Coldplay. Their expertise is sure to provide participants with an awe-inspiring experience!
The first half of the festival will consist of a national simulcast with all nine locations across the country, including:
• an opening video spotlighting youth standing up in their lives and community;
• a message from SGI President Ikeda; and
• powerful keynote speakers, world-class musical performances and inspiring experiences in faith.
With the conclusion of the simulcast, the local festivities will begin, and include:
• Ikeda Youth Ensemble performances interwoven with a video on President Ikeda’s efforts for peace and how the youth of America can live as Lions of Justice. (The 1,100 performers were selected after a monthlong audition process, and are sure to take the festival to another level.)
• A finale, the “Lions of Justice Vow” song, which was professionally recorded this spring (see July 20, 2018, World Tribune, p. 10).