Ikeda Center

“Can Dialogue Save the World?”

Participants at the 15th annual Ikeda Forum, “Can Dialogue Save the World? Exploring the Power of Human Connections,” held at the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue, Cambridge, Mass., Oct. 25. Photo by MARILYN HUMPHRIES.


by Mitch Bogen
Special to the Tribune

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 25—The 15th annual Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue, held at the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue, was groundbreaking. Called “Can Dialogue Save the World? Exploring the Power of Human Connections,” it was the first Ikeda Forum to be fully led by young people.

Eight young professionals reported on what they learned over the last several months from engaging in a series of five 90-minute dialogue sessions with established scholars in the Boston area, using SGI President Ikeda’s dialogic ethos and strategies as a guide and inspiration.

The scholars were Ceasar McDowell of MIT, Anita Patterson of Boston University, Catia Confortini of Wellesley College and Bernice Lerner of Boston University.

In opening remarks, Ikeda Center staff members Lillian I and Anri Tanabe said the project was inspired by President Ikeda’s conviction that when young people resist their own feelings of resignation and engage dialogically with one another, they can cause a ripple effect of positive change in their community and the world at large.[1]Based on SGI President Ikeda’s 2019 Peace Proposal. See daisakuikeda.org.

During the process, the youth said they gained vital insights into the value of successful dialogue. For example, Prachi Jain opened her remarks with a metaphor from President Ikeda’s dialogue with Stuart Rees, founding director of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, in Peace, Justice, and the Poetic Mind. In it, he says, “Only a diamond can polish another diamond.” She then thanked her dialogue partners for “helping me realize that I have the potential to become a better human being with every conversation that I have.”

Ms. Jain concluded her remarks with a recitation of the kinds of questions she now asks herself after her dialogue experience: How many times in a conversation can I listen intently without already having a response or wanting to interrupt someone to voice my opinion? How can I be more thoughtful when I don’t agree with what the other person is saying?

Another main finding was that commitment to dialogue over time facilitates movement from isolation and ignorance to connection and mutual understanding. This transformation shows one way personal growth can lead to global peace.

To conclude, attendees were invited to share ideas that emerged from their small group discussions. One summed things up well, saying: “Through dialogue, we can recognize our own assumptions of what we believe is right. Rethinking these assumptions opens the way to being more compassionate about others. In this way, dialogue can lead to saving the world.” WT

For a detailed account of the Ikeda Forum, please visit www.ikedacenter.org.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Based on SGI President Ikeda’s 2019 Peace Proposal. See daisakuikeda.org.