In my view, the approach to considering urgent global challenges exemplified in Daisaku Ikeda’s annual peace proposals is one we would do well to emulate. The Ikeda peace proposals (written every year since 1983 and posted on-line) illustrate two essential elements for effective civil action toward peace: a way of thinking that produces positive possibilities coupled with concrete recommendations for civic action. This way of thinking is one of the emerging alternatives to the present limiting forms of “realism” that stand in the way of seeking out and assessing constructive, creative solutions to myriad global problems — solutions that could lead us toward a just and sustainable peace.
Mr. Ikeda addresses global problems in his annual proposals with a breadth of vision and apprehension of possibility sorely missing from the dominant modes of thinking with which most publics and governments produce, at best, only short-term solutions. In so doing they restrain the public will to act and crush the hope required as motivation for undertaking difficult social action. The nurturing of hope is most critical for young people, who, in its absence might feel there is no point in striving toward their own preferred futures. Inspiring hope, then, is another core purpose of the Ikeda messages.
For these reasons, I will be collaborating with Zeena Zakharia of UMass Boston and the Ikeda Center in the coming months to conduct a two-part seminar series intended to introduce Boston-area university students to the concept and practice of alternative modes of thinking. They will engage with the reasoning and recommendations found in the peace proposals, especially as they relate to the abolition of nuclear weapons. It is important to note here that Mr. Ikeda’s hope for peace arises from a core set of life-affirming values that resonate with the peace-seeking “attitudes, values…behaviors” growing among the youth of the world (advocated in “United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”).
During the seminars we will pay close attention to five elements of Mr. Ikeda’s modes of thinking that influence most positions and proposals on security matters and other public issues: values, i.e., moral and ethical principles and standards; concerns, i.e., problems that violate the values; proposals, i.e., ideas for overcoming or resolving the problems; actions, i.e., steps to implement the proposals; and consequences, i.e., potential outcomes of the actions.
Beneath everything we do will be the firm conviction that while we are convening during a time of the most serious threat of nuclear war we have faced since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, it also is a time of unprecedented opportunity to make the most significant strides toward nuclear abolition since their development and use in World War II. Indeed, the adoption of the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons on July 7, 2017 is a breakthrough opportunity to advance the cause of nuclear abolition.
It is the young—so little consulted, yet potentially most creative—to whom we look for the fresh, creative, and constructive thinking essential to moving us toward a culture of peace. We seek to learn with and from them toward common endeavors in that movement. Therefore, the Ikeda Center Youth Peace Seminars comprise an inquiry into hope-inducing possibilities and a communal exploration of practical strategies for engaging others in similar and expanding inquiries—inquiries exploring the potential for civil society action that is a major intent of the peace proposals.