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Challenging Fear With Courage

Students and young professionals join the Ikeda Center’s Dialogue Nights event themed “Challenging Fear With Courage,” Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 31. Photo by Kevin Maher.

by Mitch Bogen
Special to the Tribune

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.,—The Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue launched its 2020 Dialogue Nights series on Jan. 31 with “We Can Do It! Challenging Fear With Courage.”

To open, Ikeda Center Program Manager Lillian I welcomed the 45 young Bostonians in attendance, saying that one quote in particular from SGI President Ikeda inspired the event. “The future of humankind,” he said, “depends on the present, on young people who have the courage to confront reality, never submitting before adversity.”[1]

Participants discussed their biggest fears with a dialogue partner. Then, in small groups, they shared with others occasions when they succeeded in overcoming their fears.

One of the key ideas that emerged from these discussions was to proactively face the widely shared fear of “being alone.” Being with others can keep irrational thoughts from running through your head “unchecked.” By the same token, “we need to step up and make sure our friends and family feel supported.” Another central theme was to muster the courage to break through the apathetic feeling that nothing can be done about the problems of our world.

To conclude the evening, participants reconnected with their original dialogue partner, revisiting their fears in light of their conversations about manifesting courage in everyday life.

A highlight was one woman’s advice to never talk yourself out of future activities by projecting negative outcomes. Why? As it turns out, she and her now-husband kept putting off their first date, each thinking that “dating is the worst, and it’s not going to work.” Finally they met, and today they are life partners!

To close, Lillian asked everyone to boil down their findings into mottos to encourage them to take action whenever fear might arise. Here are some that capture the spirit of the gathering: I choose courage over perfection! Go for it! Everything starts from today!


  1. From “Youth of the World: An Appeal for Resilience and Hope,” a joint statement by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and SGI President Ikeda (see July 6, 2018, World Tribune, p. 7). ↩︎

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