My Experience at SGI’s Founding in Guam
When the Soka Gakkai International was established on Jan. 26, 1975, in Guam, SGI-USA member Gerry Hall served as the secretary-general for the meeting and read the Declaration for Peace on behalf of its 158 participants. We asked Mr. Hall what he recalled and learned from that day.
World Tribune: Thank you for sitting down with us. We understand you served as the secretary-general for the meeting where the Soka Gakkai International was established. What do you remember most about that day?
Gerry Hall: What stuck out to me the most was the joy and happiness of the members and seeing people from 51 countries and territories gather for the first time.
The ultimate highlight was SGI President Ikeda’s speech, in which he said: “Rather than seeking after your own praise or glory, I hope that you will dedicate your noble lives to sowing the seeds of peace of the Mystic Law throughout the entire world. I shall do the same” (see excerpt to the left).
When I heard these words in a room full of members from around the world, it confirmed for me that kosen-rufu was a reality.
WT: Did you have a sense that you were witnessing history in the making?
Hall: I was among a handful of SGI-USA representatives who had been in Guam for two weeks preparing for the event behind the scenes. We were focused on making sure the event went smoothly.
At the time, we didn’t realize that we were making history. That’s why I always try to remind youth today that the things they’re doing right now might seem minor, but history is being made. Every campaign and every event are way bigger than you think of it at the time.
WT: What did you learn from observing President Ikeda’s actions during the event?
Hall: To me, Sensei became my North Star—the one person I could count on without fail. I saw him as someone whose only motive was working for the happiness of the members and spreading peace. The road to kosen-rufu, of course, is filled with obstacles. After that event, I would sometimes imagine that I was on the ocean on a stormy night, and the one thing I could see was that star. I knew that if I just kept going in that same direction, the storm would pass.
WT: What would you like to say to the youth of today?
Hall: I’d say to them that when they are encouraging someone, they are making a difference in that person’s life, and it could even mean life or death. After a discussion meeting, it might seem like you’re just catching up, but if you’re sincere in your interactions, then those conversations can have an impact. That extra word of praise—“You can do it” or “Thank you for coming” or “I’m thinking about you and your problem”—is huge.
Looking back, Sensei was planting seeds of confidence in us on that day, so that we could return to our respective countries and have those seeds sprout into action for kosen-rufu. If you have a chance to share a determination or experience at a meeting, or talk to someone and encourage them, that’s what you can take away from the SGI’s founding.
You don’t have to think about how you wished you could have been at that meeting. You’re doing it now!