Global Citizenship: Toward a Civilization of Wisdom, Love and Peace

boholano-thumbThis is the title of a dialogue-book  by Daisaku Ikeda and me that was launched on May 25, 2016 at the Ikeda Hall-Balay Kalinaw in U.P. Diliman, Quezon City. It took us two years to write the book. Dr. Ikeda is President of Soka Gakkai International. The original was published in Japanese.

President Ikeda and I share four aspects: One, our birth in the same year, 1928. Two, our commitment to universal peace and nonkilling. Three, our love for culture and efforts to promote international understanding through cultural exchange. Four, our dedication as students of “transforming leadership” in helping build global citizenship toward a civilization of wisdom, love and peace.

It took us more than two years of dialogue (2012-2013) that resulted in this book in English we entitle: Global Citizenship: Toward a Civilization of Wisdom, Love and Peace. Hopes from the Philippines and Japan on the Marine Road from the Indian Ocean. Today this Marine Road provides a key to a future filled with shared hope and mutual respect.

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At age 88, I have lived much longer in Greater Manila, and some 20 years overseas: nine  discontinuous years in the U.S.A.; eight years in Japan; two years in Nepal; and a year in Thailand.

In our Roman Catholic family, the Abuevas believe in God’s commandment to love your neighbor and not to kill.  With my parents I learned as a teen that so many were killed in the ongoing World War II in Europe and in the Japanese war against China. Japan’s attack in Hawaii brought World II to our country, then a colony of the United States.

I was 16 when my parents and younger members of the family were captured by Japanese soldiers in our hometown, Duero, Bohol.  They released my sisters and brother. But they tortured our parents and took them away. I looked for them and finally found their remains scattered on a hillside by the road, in Balitbiton, Valencia. With their skulls and bones I saw a broken rosary and my mother’s soiled brown dress as a devotee of San Antonio de Padua. I believed they were Christian martyrs who prayed as they were tortured and killed.

My parents were killed on October 22, 1944. Two days earlier General Douglas MacArthur and his so-called “Liberation Forces” landed at Leyte. Indeed, Teddy, our eldest brother, went to welcome them.

We seven orphans of the Japanese occupation and World War II in our country never sought recognition from our government for our parents’ patriotism. They had refused to collaborate with the Japanese-sponsored government. Instead, they served in the underground government and guerrilla movement. Neither did we seek any share in the war reparations from Japan.

As Christians we accepted God’s will. We forgave the killers of our parents and Japan as the aggressor and occupying country. We believed our parents were always praying for us on earth as they would in heaven.

Many years later a blessed irony would happen to me and my family. I would live and work in Japan while serving the United Nations University in Tokyo (1977-87)!  Japan had become a democracy and a champion of world peace and cooperation in the United Nations. I would become a partner for global peace and nonkilling with President Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakai International, and Soka University.

While we learn by reading and following the mass media, our living, studying and working abroad enhance our ability to work together for peace and cooperation, and allow us to truly feel a sense of oneness as world citizens with a common humanity.

As a Roman Catholic, I have depended on the Holy Bible and on the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church that calls for “Building the Civilization of Love” that must embrace the whole human race. xxx Only a humanity in which there reigns the ‘civilization of love’ will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace.”

Pope Francis gives new impetus and inspiration in our quest for the good life with a global view: to love and be tender with each other, to serve the poor everywhere, and to protect all creation. Maybe, to him this is what it means to be “a good global citizen.”

Now, let me have the honor to introduce President Daisaku Ikeda, my partner in our dialogue that resulted in our book. Our dialogue was initially proposed by Daisanbunmei, Soka Gakkai affiliated publisher in Japan, and was serialized in their monthly magazine from 2012 to 2013.

Daisaku Ikeda was born to a family of seaweed farmers. His commitment to peace was forged by his boyhood experience living through the tragedies and horrors of World War II. He saw people die in air raids and fire bombings, and his own family, too, were burned out of their home. His four brothers were drafted into military service and the eldest was killed in action.

Ikeda later recalls the time when the family received the news of his brother’s death. “One of my brothers went to pick up Kiichi’s cremated remains. I couldn’t bear to look at my mother as she stood clasping the small white box that held all that was left of her eldest child. I felt, in the depths of my being, the tragedy and cruel waste of war.”

Soon after the war’s end, in 1947, at the age of 19, Ikeda met Josei Toda (1900-58), the second president of the Soka Gakkai, a lay Buddhist organization, whom he would come to regard as his mentor in life. Toda had been oppressed and imprisoned for opposing the Japanese militaristic regime during World War II together with his own mentor, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the founding president of the Soka Gakkai. They were both educators. Makiguchi died in prison in 1944 uncompromising in his belief. Toda, released in 1945, went on to revive the grassroots movement encouraging and empowering the people in devastated post-war Japan with his strong resolve to realize a peaceful society and the well-being of all people.

In 1960, after Toda’s passing, Dr. Ikeda was inaugurated as the third president of the Soka Gakkai. As a staunch proponent of dialogue as the foundation of peace, he traveled around the world pursuing dialogue with individuals in the political, cultural, educational and academic fields in order to promote peace and address common challenges. In 1975, Ikeda became the first president of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) which has developed into a global association of socially engaged Buddhism.

Underlying all of President Ikeda’s efforts is his firm belief that the religious spirit of compassion, altruism and courage brings values of good in people’s lives, elevates ethical perspective and moral value.

It is the wellspring of energy and strength that revives people’s lives and society. It strengthens human bonds and forms the foundation to nurture in people an awareness of being common citizens of this planet who must live together transcending cultural and ethnic differences.

He also believes that global peace relies ultimately on a self-directed transformation within the life of the individual. “A great inner revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.” This is the theme of Ikeda’s lifelong novel, “The Human Revolution.”

Such is the message Ikeda has been inspiring in people, especially the youth, all over the world, based on the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism that upholds infinite respect for the inviolable dignity of human life.

“Global Citizenship: Toward a Civilization of Wisdom, Love and Peace. This is the grand vision Daisaku Ikeda and I hope to promote by our continuing efforts. We join the endeavor of countless others who are similarly inspired around the world in succeeding generations.

Our commitment to “global nonkilling” is inspired by Dr. Glenn D. Paige, the American political scientist in Hawaii who leads the world movement. The three of us are believers in “transforming leadership” to help fulfill each nation’s vision and the world’s vision.

President Ikeda spelled out the following elements of global citizenship: (1) the wisdom to perceive the interconnectedness of all life and living; (2) the courage not to fear or deny but to respect and strive to understand people of different cultures and to grow from encounters with them; and (3) the compassion to maintain an imaginative empathy that reaches beyond one’s immediate surroundings and extends to those suffering in distant places. He feels that these attributes are now more paramount than ever.

We very much hope our readers will share our vision and hopes from the Philippines and Japan, carried across the Marine Road in East Asia and the West Pacific! 

My email is pepevabueva@gmail.com

By Jose “Pepe” Abueva



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