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Building Bridges of Dialogue

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Berlin, Germany. Brandenburg Gate. (Photo by: Hermes Images/AGF/UIG via Getty Images)


“To melt the Cold War’s wall of ice, I’ve decided to pursue a course of dialogue. I feel it’s important to engage leaders from both sides, East and West, in earnest discussion, as ordinary fellow human beings. Even someone wielding the greatest power and authority is still just a human being.”[1]The New Human Revolution, vol. 5, revised edition, p. 2.
—SGI President Ikeda

In volume 4 of The New Human Revolution, which we are studying in this month’s issue, SGI President Ikeda went on his first overseas trip to Europe, which spanned 20 days in October 1961. One of President Ikeda’s deepest concerns at the time was the Berlin Wall, which divided East and West Berlin. President Ikeda visited the wall just two months after it was erected. He wrote of the time:

From August 13 onward, the barbwire wall grew longer and more fortified day by day until finally a cruel and unyielding barrier of concrete and brick was firmly in place. The sudden closing of the passage between East and West Berlin split families, relatives and lovers. It was a small-scale model of the Cold War, in which people were oppressed and cast asunder by opposing ideologies.[2] The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, revised edition, pp. 261–62.

At the wall, President Ikeda said with a conviction that belied the stark reality of the times: “I am sure that in thirty years this Berlin Wall will no longer stand.”[3] Ibid., p. 319 At the Brandenburg Gate, he chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo deeply, with a determination for the peace and happiness of all humanity.

President Ikeda later recalled that he was not simply giving voice to a prediction or a wish that the wall would come down: “I spoke from my conviction that a people seeking peace would definitely be united. I was expressing my personal vow to keep struggling through the means of dialogue for the sake of world peace.”[4]April 21, 2017, World Tribune, p. 2.

From that moment, he waged an unparalleled struggle to build bridges of dialogue between leaders of opposing ideologies, culminating in his undeniable contributions to the end of the Cold War.

In November 1989, 28 years later, the Berlin Wall came down.

Notes   [ + ]

1. The New Human Revolution, vol. 5, revised edition, p. 2.
2. The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, revised edition, pp. 261–62.
3. Ibid., p. 319
4. April 21, 2017, World Tribune, p. 2.