50K Festival

Lions of Justice Youth Vow

"We came together to make a shared pledge to develop a world where all life is respected!"


The following is the SGI-USA Lions of Justice Youth Vow, presented by Olivia Saito and Mike O’Malley, the SGI-USA young women’s and young men’s leaders.

We came together to make a shared pledge to develop a world where all life is respected!

Olivia Saito and Mike O’Malley, the SGI-USA young women’s and young men’s leaders.

We are not simply critics of the past or present; rather, we are directors of the present and future. When we stand up and reform our own hearts, society will definitely change. In SGI President Ikeda’s poem that inspired the theme of this festival, he wrote, in part:

A successor must be a pioneer,
one who stands at the vanguard,
and plants the banner of victory . . .

I want to foster even one more
lion of justice
who will remain unperturbed
by the harshest storm.
This is my present wish and vow.[1]June 9, 2017, World Tribune, p. 7.

A Lion of Justice is someone who can 1) courageously confront and overcome any obstacle that stands between themselves and their dreams; 2) fearlessly challenge the ways of thinking that justify hate, violence and discrimination; and 3) unite with people from all walks of life and develop a society based on the happiness of all people!

On July 6, 1943, the founders of our movement, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, were imprisoned by Japan’s military authorities for opposing the nation’s imperialist war. On Nov. 18, 1944, Mr. Makiguchi died in prison from old age and malnutrition.

Josei Toda was released on July 3, 1945, just one month before atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leaving hundreds of thousands dead. Mr. Toda dedicated the remainder of his life fighting to “erase misery from the face of the earth” and developed a Buddhist movement to empower common people to transform their destinies and initiated efforts for the abolition of nuclear weapons before he passed away on April 2, 1958.

On May 3, 1960, Daisaku Ikeda was inaugurated as third Soka Gakkai president, developing it into a worldwide network of ordinary people, striving to lead fulfilling lives while bringing happiness to those around them. He has engaged in dialogues with some 7,000 world leaders in academia, the arts and politics and, every year since 1983, has written peace proposals to the international community, including the United Nations.

The SGI movement is based on the Buddhist philosophy that all life is worthy of respect and each day of life is infinitely precious.

Today, 50,000 of us stand together to oppose violence and war, and pledge to create a new future, based on the transformation of each individual!

Today we are here to make a pledge to take a stand and fight for the dignity of life, starting in our families, neighborhoods, schools and places of work. Let’s ask ourselves: What do I stand for? What mark will I make?

In today’s world, ways of thinking that discriminate against others based on differences of race, gender and identity, justifying hatred and violence, are intensifying. The degradation of our humanity is evident.

But, there is hope. There are 50,000 of us here today and many others out there who believe that another world is possible. A world where there are no borders and where people from all cultures and backgrounds freely express and exchange ideas, leading to a global renaissance.

Today we are here to make a pledge to take a stand and fight for the dignity of life, starting in our families, neighborhoods, schools and places of work. Let’s ask ourselves: What do I stand for? What mark will I make?

Today, as 50,000 Lions of Justice, we pledge to:

1. View the people of the world, beyond all borders, including refugees, as family, equally worthy of respect.

2. End violence in our homes and communities, and fight to end the senseless killing of precious individuals!

3. Ceaselessly engage in dialogue that uproots ideas that justify hatred and discrimination. Violence, hate and discrimination have no place in this country any longer!

4. Remember that the earth is our common home that we must protect and work together to reduce human activity that threatens the survival of our planet.

5. Fight to abolish nuclear weapons by 2030, based on second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s 1957 declaration to abolish nuclear weapons.

While politics will play a role in making important changes, new policies will not address the roots of these problems. The key is for each of us to stand up as protagonists and awaken the hearts of one person after another to fight for their dreams and a harmonious society.

We echo the joint appeal that President Ikeda and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel made in June of this year:[2]July 6, 2018, World Tribune, pp. 6–7.

We consider it to be of the greatest importance to human society today and in the future that young people commit themselves to working with the world’s people to usher in a new dawn of hope; that they unite in solidarity to protect the dignity of life, fight injustice, and make equally accessible those things that are necessary for people’s physical and spiritual freedom. By doing this, young people will create a precious and universal spiritual heritage for humankind, a new world of justice and solidarity.

Each of us has unique experiences and talents. Each of us is the key to developing a global renaissance. The only limitations are those we box ourselves into.

Speak up! Break through the glass ceilings! Break down the barriers that separate people! Pioneer a revolution! Let’s stand together as Lions of Justice and create a new reality!

 

Notes   [ + ]

1. June 9, 2017, World Tribune, p. 7.
2. July 6, 2018, World Tribune, pp. 6–7.