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by David Krieger and Daisaku Ikeda
are days when it is difficult to have hope. The newspapers are filled with
stories of wars, terrorism and human suffering. There are times when our hope
for humanity is seriously challenged by the actions or inactions of individuals
and societies across the globe.
We all have a choice. We can submit to apathy and indifference or we can
choose hope. This dialogue is about choosing hope and recognizing that we each
have a responsibility to make a difference in the world. In this book.
Choose Hope, Daisaku Ikeda and I are not saying that choosing hope
is a simple, easy solution to life and humanity's serious problems. We are only
saying that it is necessary if we are to create a better future. We are asking
you to consider being part of the solution to the grave problems that confront
Foremost among these problems is the ever-present danger of nuclear weapons.
These weapons, which really are not weapons at all but instruments of
annihilation, place humanity's future in jeopardy. As long as some countries
rely on nuclear weapons for security, all countries and all people are
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the dangers of nuclear
terrorism loom large. September 11 taught us that even the most powerful nations
are not immune from terrorist attacks. All are vulnerable, and the weak and
despairing have certain advantages in their battles with the rich and powerful.
Had terrorists had nuclear weapons on September 11, the death toll could have
been three hundred thousand or three million instead of three thousand.
The citizens of rich nations can no longer feel secure in a world in which
large numbers of people live in utter despair. No castle walls can be built high
enough or strong enough to protect the rich from those who have given up hope
for their future. No military preparations or expenditures will in the end be
able to protect the rich from suicidal terrorists, particularly those armed with
weapons of mass destruction. The world will either be made more just and decent
for all, or it will be secure for none.
The issue of nuclear threat, whether by terrorists or governments, like so
many other critical issues, is surrounded by thick layers of ignorance and
apathy. To change the world, we must bring forth butterflies of hope from the
cocoons of ignorance and apathy that surround them. The best place to begin is
with ourselves. We must emerge from our own cocoons as positive agents of
In this dialogue, we explore our own lives and views of the world. We share
with each other and with you, the reader, our views on achieving a more just and
peaceful world. We believe deeply that the world can and must be made more
decent for all. This is true not only because it is moral and right, but also
because if it is not done, those who are injured, alienated and hateful will
wreak havoc, tearing down the castle walls and the castle itself. In our Nuclear
Age, the demise of civilization and humanity itself could be the price of
We have reached a point in human history that demands more from each of us.
It is not just leaders who make history. It is all of us. By our decisions each
day we help shape the world, for better or for worse. On the path to building a
better world, a first step is to choose hope. It is only a first step, but it is
a critical one, one that will provide the impetus to move forward. There is much
to do and you are needed more than perhaps you can imagine.
In the words of the great representative of the American Renaissance Ralph
Waldo Emerson, whose works I started reading in my youth, "It is really a
thought that has built this portentous war-establishment, and a thought shall
also melt it away."'
Two global wars and a series of ideological and racial conflicts made the
twentieth truly a century of war and violence. We must remember, however, that
the same century witnessed the worldwide spread of popular movements aimed at
peace and disarmament, such as those sponsored by non-governmental
organizations. Some memorable achievements in this direction are the
World Court Project,
which raised in the International Court of Justice the issue of the illegality
of nuclear arms, and the treaty obtained by the International Campaign to Ban
Landmines. As such developments indicate, popular solidarity is breaking through
the hard wall of harsh reality and altering conventional thinking about
security. In the same direction, we of the
Soka Gakkai International have joined forces with David Krieger and
the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
he heads in the Abolition 2000
drive to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Such movements stimulate a swelling tide of hope. In this book, Dr. Krieger
and I examine various outlooks in a search for a philosophy and a vision that
will make hope the byword of all humanity in the twenty-first century.
Our range of topics includes the roles of the United Nations and
nongovernmental organizations and the mission and responsibilities of science
and education. We have attempted to plot a path for a world free of war and
nuclear weapons. We agree that a conversion from state security to human
security is essential if we are to reform our times lastingly.
In Dr. Krieger's words: "Human security...demands protection of the
environment and protection against human-rights abuses. It demands an end to
poverty as well as to war and genocide. It demands an end to the threat of
nuclear holocaust. It demands a judicial system capable of holding states and
individuals accountable for violations of international law and a system of
"The power of our technologies makes our problems global. No nation by itself
can protect its citizens from them. National security now requires common
security, just as human security demands global security."
On September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks took many precious lives in the
United States and roused sorrow and anger in many parts of the world. We must
accept the challenge to convert that sorrow and anger into resoluteness and
energy for peace. In this way we can help create a world of security and
happiness for everyone.
As Dr. Krieger strongly asserts, the destiny of twenty-first-century humanity
depends on ensuring worldwide safety and security. Terrorism can be said to
epitomize inhumanity. Converting its negative into the positive of a global
society radiant with humanism requires pooling all our wisdom supported by the
solidarity of all the peoples of the earth.
Today I am more than ever convinced that though our situation may be
difficult, we must not stand idly by. In the twenty-first century, humanity must
show how mighty "people power" can be. We must make recognition of that power
the hallmark of the age.
Despite spates of bad news and crises typified by the dark clouds of trouble
hovering over the Middle East, steady hope-giving progress is being made in many
areas. The British historian Arnold J. Toynbee said that, when we view the
future of humanity in millennial units, we see that ultimately history is
created by "deeper, slower movements."' In our present situation, choices we
must make deep within ourselves will determine whether the twenty-first century
follows the violent, bellicose path of the twentieth century or leads humanity
to an age of peace and harmonious symbiotic living.
Hope does not just occur. It is a conscious choice, an act of will. One must
choose hope in the face of all we know.
When one surveys the world, however, there is so much that is not hopeful.
There is far too much poverty with all the tragedy that accompanies it. There is
far too much violence and there are far too many weapons. Someone examining the
budgets of the world's countries might conclude that most countries care more
about weapons for their militaries than they do about their people.
In a millennial report, the UN secretary-general found that if the world were
a village of a thousand people, then only 150 of the inhabitants would live in
an affluent area while 780 would live in poor districts and seventy would be in
transition. Of the thousand people, two hundred would dispose of 86 percent of
the wealth, and nearly half of the villagers would be living on less than two
dollars per day.
The secretary-general reported that these problems of poverty and disparity
make peace unpredictable. He also reported that the environment is also
suffering and the quality of the air and water, essential to life, is
deteriorating. "Who among us," the secretary-general asked, "would not wonder
how long a village in this state can survive?"
A clear-eyed view of the present circumstances on earth is not cause for
celebration. Political leaders at all levels seem more focused on shortsighted
gains for themselves than on the welfare of humanity. The world's states
continue to operate largely in a competitive mode, while increasing numbers of
people throughout the world cry out for new modes of cooperation. The
corporations that dominate the world's economy continue to base their success on
short-term profits and to treat the earth, air and water as economic
externalities at their disposal.
I have not yet mentioned the murderers, the merely greedy, and those who are
responsible for racism and ethnic cleansing and for the proliferation, use and
creation of weapons.
A good argument could be made for giving up on the human species in
hopelessness and despair. Perhaps our species is simply acting out a death wish
by its selfish, shortsighted and cruel behavior. And yet, we know at a deep
level that we are capable of far better than this.
We are a species gifted in the creation of sublime beauty. We are a species
capable of love, friendship, loyalty and acts of great selflessness. We are
capable of seeing the bigger picture and embracing the challenge of building a
better world. Like our technologies, we are dual-purpose. We are capable of both
good and evil, and we struggle forward in this world where good and evil
continue to co-exist.
I choose hope. It is a conscious choice, made in the full understanding that
the evil around us is enough to envelop and overwhelm us. I choose hope because
I feel a deep responsibility to do what I believe I am obligated to do—to pass
the world on a better place than when I came into it. It is what gives meaning
to life. To fight for a better world is a form of living life to its fullest and
richest. I choose hope as a personal and professional responsibility.
Dialogue is a way that probes and explores, a way from which hopefully both
participants grow in their own understanding of the world. The world needs more
dialogue, but dialogue that is aimed at action.
Words must lead to change—in the case of this dialogue, to creating a better
world. Building a better world requires hope. Without hope it is not possible to
go forward. To choose hope is already a step in the right direction. It is as
easy to choose hope as it is to deny it and push it away. With hope, we can
change the world.
Each of us must decide whether or not to choose hope. Our dialogue will have
succeeded if it helps you to choose hope and act for a better world.
The great French writer Victor Hugo triumphed over a life of turmoil and
oppression. Soka University of America possesses a portrait photograph of him in
his later years, which bears a hand-written inscription of which I am extremely
fond. In English, it means, "Where there is hope, there is peace." If hope is
wanting, we must create it for ourselves. Once we have done so, the great wave
of peace can swell and spread freely.
article is excerpted from Choose Hope, ©2001, by David Krieger and
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Middleway Press.
Info/Order this book.
About the Authors
Krieger is a founder of the
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
and has served as president of the Foundation since 1982. Under his leadership
the Foundation has initiated many innovative and important projects for building
peace, strengthening international law and abolishing nuclear weapons. He has
lectured the world over and is a founder of
a global network of more than 2,000 organizations and municipalities committed
to the elimination of nuclear weapons. He has written and edited numerous
studies and books about peace and nuclear weapons, including Nuclear Weapons and
the World Court and Waging Peace in the Nuclear Age.
Ikeda is president of the
Soka Gakkai International, a
lay Buddhist association pursuing the values of peace, culture and education and
committed to fostering within individuals a sense of responsibility for the
shared global community. He is also the founder of numerous cultural,
educational and research institutions around the world. Prolific writer, poet
and peace activist, he is recognized as one of the leading interpreters of
Buddhism, bringing its timeless wisdom to bear on the many contemporary issues
confronting humanity. Among the dozens of books he has written is the
For the Sake of Peace. He
received the United Nations Peace Award in 1983.
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