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Messages to the Lions of Justice

The following are video messages from distingished figures recorded for the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, honoring SGI President Ikeda’s efforts for peace and the historic gathering of youth.


Michelle Obama
Former First Lady of the U.S.

Good afternoon to all of you at this year’s Lions of Justice. I first learned about this festival through my good friend Herbie Hancock, and I know he’s participating today along with some of my other good friends.

I also know that the real stars of today are you, the 50,000 young people gathered together all across the country. You are part of this festival because you are not content with the world as it is, and you have a vision for the world as it ought to be. That’s why you’re speaking out against violence, injustice and discrimination, and fighting for peace, unity and equality. That’s why you’re coming together today to insist that every person on this planet be treated with dignity and respect no matter what we look like, how we worship or whom we love.

I’m proud of all of you for setting your sights so high and for standing up for what you believe in, and I want you all to know that I have faith in you. I have confidence in you. And I can’t wait to see all the good you do in our world in the years ahead. Thank you so much and enjoy the festival.

Orlando Bloom

(Photo by Stefania D’Alessandro/Getty Images)

Actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

I think one of the first things that SGI President Ikeda said to me was “How is your mother?” In fact, he gave her an award for being my mother, and my mother is a remarkable woman.

Mothers of the world are really the hope of the future. In every community I’ve worked with for UNICEF, I see women taking leadership. At this time in our lives, it’s something that’s become quite apparent: Women are coming to the fore. Youth are coming to the fore. And I think that’s very encouraging.

So Sensei, when he spoke of my mother, was speaking really of having a deep understanding and empathy that a mother can have not only for themselves and their children but for the world. And that’s the kind of compassionate heart we want to lead with.

Photo by ERIC CONNELLY / U.S. HOUSE OFFICE OF PHOTOGRAPHY.

U.S Rep. Hank Johnson
Georgia’s 4th Congressional District

SGI President Ikeda travels the globe as a world citizen making friends with people of high positions as well as
regular ordinary people working in society. So his example has been a wonderful one. It’s one that is always in my heart and in my mind in terms of how I conduct myself.

Sarah Wider
Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Colgate University

One thing that stays with me from my meeting with SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda is how much we were smiling. It was such a vibrant and radiant energy. And I certainly learned from them the importance of bringing the sun into whatever we are doing.

Photo by MASAYUKI TSUJIMURA.

I know how important this is, as I learn more about President Ikeda’s poetry and his writing for women, connecting them with the sun. This has been a very important understanding for me coming from a Western philosophical background in which so often women are not equated with the sun. So that understanding of the sun [is important]—as being available to all of us as well as being absolutely central to how we should be in every moment, and that we can then generate that for another person, for ourselves and with each other.

Lawrence E. Carter Sr.
Founding Dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College

Photo by AUDREY DEMPSEY.

This is where Dr. Daisaku Ikeda has really won—he has demonstrated friendships built from dialogue while discovering that you have multiple citizenships all over the planet. This is what caused Dr. King to say injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I could not shake the idea from my mind that if Gandhi and King were living today, they would be doing exactly what Dr. Ikeda is doing.

Ira Helfand
Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

One of the things that’s really distinctive about the SGI is the fundamental commitment to nuclear abolition. I don’t think anybody else has integrated this so centrally into the life of their faith community. For that reason, the SGI has a particularly strong

Photo by CORNELL UNIVERSITY PHOTOGRAPHY.

responsibility in this movement.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons [adopted in July 2017] was brought about in large measure by the work of civil society. There are a number of governments that played an enormously important role as well. But civil society in the form of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which the SGI has been a key part, played a very central role in bringing this treaty into existence.