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Global Perspective

Creating the Culture of Peace

A Clarion Call for Individual and Collective Transformation—Anwarul K. Chowdhury and Daisaku Ikeda

Former U.N. Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury gives a talk at the 6th Annual Dialogue on the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence at Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, California, October 2019. Courtesy of Saori Konishi / SUA Archives

Ikeda Sensei has had dialogues with leading figures throughout the world to strengthen and advance the path to peace. To date, 80 of his dialogues have been published in book form. This new series highlights one dialogue a month.

The following excerpts are from Creating the Culture of Peace (pp. 69–71), a dialogue between Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, a diplomat most noted for his work on the culture of peace and championing the rights of women and children, and Daisaku Ikeda.

The Steadfast Voices of Women

Daisaku Ikeda: As long as people remain indifferent to events occurring far away, nothing will change for the better. But when people realize the connections linking themselves and their immediate communities to the rest of the world, their interest is sparked, and they become forces for action. …

The interest and concern of adults are critical factors in ensuring the happiness of children.

Anwarul K. Chowdhury: This is why I find the forward-looking work of the Soka Gakkai women’s division for the wellbeing of children deeply impressive. As they raise awareness, the members themselves master the issues before explaining them to their associates. This approach is vital to any kind of advocacy work, any kind of wide-ranging networking, any kind of broad-based movement for the good of humanity. In the case of religion for example—as in the case of any substantive human endeavour —people cannot be true believers unless they internalize and thoroughly understand the true meanings of the doctrines of their faith.

Ikeda: A movement’s participants are only self-motivated and take initiative when they have a full grasp of and conviction in the movement’s true significance. This is also crucial for building an enduring movement. These are the keys to the success of any popular movement, and this is why the SGI especially stresses each member taking initiative. Nothing is as strong as inner motivation generated by a spiritual awakening. The starting point of the SGI movement for peace, culture and education is to create a global network through one-on-one dialogue. One of the aims of the SGI’s humanistic movement is to create the culture of peace in a way that transforms society through the empowerment of the individual.

Chowdhury: In my numerous interactions with them, I have found members of the Soka Gakkai women’s division very perceptive, sincerely motivated and highly intelligent. In cooperation with the youth division, they make remarkable efforts for the good and benefit of humanity. Engaging in frequent exchanges with them, I have found members of the youth division also to be impressively enthusiastic and eager to learn. At lecture meetings, I am impressed by audience questions, especially those from women who are impassioned to reach out to the people from other parts of the world and who seem to feel a sense of duty and responsibility to contribute to the betterment of the world. I believe that this spirit is created in them through your leadership and inspirational guidance. Women and youth feel especially empowered by your continuing words of appreciation and encouragement. In addition, they seem to believe that the issue of the world’s children is a perfect bridge connecting them and the rest of the globe, particularly with the developing nations.

Ikeda: There is truth in the voices of good women, and they are a steadfast force that can direct the world toward peace and society toward happiness. I have constantly insisted that humanity’s advancement hangs upon whether we heed them. This is a crucial axiom for all groups and organizations.

Chowdhury: I am very encouraged to hear you articulate this reality in such a simple and at the same time comprehensive manner. A society that fails to involve its women as equal partners in all its endeavours fails altogether. There can be no mistake more serious than ignoring or neglecting 50% of humanity.

In my work at the United Nations for the most vulnerable countries, I have observed again and again that a country that values the involvement and empowerment of women progresses confidently on the road to peace and development. Particularly in countries engaged in post-conflict nation building, women’s participation in decision-making ensures longer-term and sustainable development because women invariably want to ensure that their society, their community, is a place where their children and grandchildren can grow up and live in peace and stability. For men, it is always power-grabbing and position-seeking that influences their actions in a post-conflict situation. Your strong emphasis on the need for the true participation of women has given the SGI a meaningful mission.

Your visionary role in this regard surely deserves global recognition. Personally I have observed its positive results in women’s leadership at all levels in as many SGI chapters as I have been privileged to visit in various parts of the world. (Creating the Culture of Peace, pp. 69–71)

Amelia Gonzalez

Student Division Representative
New York

What does it take to create a world rooted in respect for each person? Can one person really change the world? As I began reading, it became clear that the answer to my questions could be found in this dialogue. Both Ambassador Chowdhury and Dr. Ikeda, since their youth, have taken concrete steps to initiate a collective transformation based on their individual effort to value the person right in front of them. The clarity and candor with which Ambassador Chowdhury and Dr. Ikeda engaged in their dialogue was incredibly moving. I learned from them that if an individual remains true to their convictions, anything is possible.

Dave Drake

Student Division Representative
New York

In this dialogue, Ikeda Sensei explains how the “Buddhist ideals … articulate a way of life founded on our common humanity,” and these very principles are the foundation of the United Nations. This book helped me better understand the significance of the U.N. With this in mind, it makes sense for religious practitioners to support and wish to see the success of their activities. For youth who are practicing any faith or share this same ideal, I feel that this book can be an entry point to engage in the U.N.’s activities.

This book is available at

Fulfilling the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu Is the Essential Spirit of Soka Mentors and Disciples