|What can you do to help improve our society and communities?|
I hope you are all well. I am writing to you all to share my thoughts and reflections with regard to the recent conflicts we are currently experiencing in London. I have been reading the 2006 Peace Proposal “A New Era of the People – Forging a Global Network of Robust Individuals” (D. Ikeda 2006).
Sensei at the beginning of the proposal gives an overview of the world wide crisis that we experienced in 2005. This was an historic year marking the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II. Reading it retrospectively, I was shocked at the extent of natural disasters; tsunami, floods and earthquakes, also; poverty, economic crisis, famine, youth violence, increase in hate crimes in particular to the Muslim community. We all collectively experienced the impact of these conflicts and disasters. What shocked me even more with regard to 2011 is the acceleration of these conflicts and the overwhelming scale in which they keeping reoccurring.
Sensei clearly states that these issues affect all of us either indirectly or directly and “in no instance can we afford to regard them as unrelated to us” (D. Ikeda, 2006). In the Peace Proposal he draws from the 19th century author Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-81) in his classic book, The House of the Dead in which he chronicles his experiences during his four years of hard labour in Siberia. What he expresses in this work is the sympathy extended by residents of the town in Siberia to the criminals amongst them. What the residents were able to do was to possess a kind of sympathy/empathy that enabled them to imagine the context that the criminals came from.
From this position of empathy and understanding, heart to heart communication was able to open up between the residents and the criminals. Sensei goes on to say, “compare this to the pathology of contemporary society, of which youth crime represents only the proverbial tip of the iceberg; its chief symptom is the near-total absence of empathetic capacity”. As we listen to the radio and the news we are hearing a whole range of explanations as to why the young people have behaved in this way.
What I feel is crucial for us as members of the Soka Gakkai is to be the flag bearers of hope and to be exemplary in dialogue and compassion. Let’s strengthen our districts, the place in which we create peace, and further open up the path of dialogue within our communities and families. In the Peace Proposal, Sensei talks about “unleashing the vitality of ordinary citizens – one by one – [as] the only certain way to bring into sight the horizons of a new civilisation, a new era of the people.”
Over the next days and weeks, as a society, we will be reflecting upon and trying to find an explanation to the events we are currently experiencing. It is crucial for us to remain hopeful and support our communities in trying to keep hope and compassion for our young people, and to encourage us as adults to reflect upon and grapple with the notion of collective responsibility for our young people who are the future.
We have our summer courses this month. I am chanting that our youth division have an outstanding victory in their courses and I am determining to make the district the oasis of hope and compassion, and to work with the youth division to create champion districts in North East London.