By Nathan Gauer, Vinessa Shaw and David Witkowski
SGI-USA Youth, Young Women's and Young Men's Leaders
In July, tens of thousands of SGI-USA youth will gather at territorywide Rock the Era youth culture festivals in Long
Beach, Calif., Chicago and Philadelphia. As we advance toward these present-day March 16 ceremonies, the SGI-USA youth leaders explain the important role every single member can play during this "Season of Decisive Victory."
On March 16, 2010—the 52nd anniversary of the day when second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda formally
entrusted the youth with the mission and responsibility to achieve kosen-rufu—the youth of the SGI-USA received an incredible message of encouragement from SGI President Ikeda.
In an expression of his profound trust and expectations for the youth in 2010 and beyond, President Ikeda named us the
"American Mentor-Disciple Decisive Victory Group."
With 99 and 114 days left before our July territorywide Rock the Era youth culture festivals—present-day March 16
ceremonies—there is no question that we have entered the "Season of Decisive Victory."
Based on our determination to inherit the baton of kosen-rufu from our mentor, on July 10, 15,000 youth will gather in West Territory at the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, Calif., and 8,000 youth will gather in Central Territory at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion; and, on July 25, 10,000 youth will gather in East Territory at The Liacouras Center at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Corn from a combine fills a grain truck
[© Jonathan Kim/Getty Images]
There is much work to be done toward our three youth culture festivals. Fortunately, every single person has an important
role to play during this "Season of Decisive Victory." In hopes of clarifying how each person can contribute, we would like to offer the following four practical suggestions.
Invite one youth guest to attend your territorywide Rock the Era youth culture festival.
This is one of the most important ways that every member of the SGI-USA can help support the youth. To focus our efforts
and prayers toward this goal, we recently created a Rock the Era sutra-book-sized card (to be distributed in the districts). On the front of this card is a montage of SGI-USA youth division members together with President Ikeda in his youth. On the back of the card, there is space to write down the name of two youth whom you would like to invite to the festival, plus their dreams for the future.
In "The Song of Comrades," a song composed by second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, we find the following lines:
I do not begrudge my life,
But where are the young
Can you not see Fujiís summit?
Rally now, quickly, in growing
(The Human Revolution, p. 1896)
In these lines exist President Toda's urgency to actualize the vision of his mentor, first Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, for a just and peaceful world—a vision President Toda knew would be impossible without
youthful successors. Making this same dream for the future of kosen-rufu our own, how many youthful disciples can we awaken during this most precious time? Let's ensure that as many youth as possible can learn from the greatest mentor in the world!
Experience the joy of participating in the May Commemorative Contribution activity.
We sincerely thank all the youth who are saving up to attend their youth culture festivals, particularly those who must
travel considerable distances. We are deeply moved by your praiseworthy example. At the same time, let's challenge ourselves
to participate in the May Commemorative Contribution activity to the best of our ability, with the understanding that
what's most important is our spirit to contribute, as Nichiren Daishonin says, with "earnest resolve" (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1125). Ultimately, both opportunities serve as the means for us to forge our faith by challenging and surmounting every obstacle through prayer.
For every district now to begin confirming the youth who will attend their territory's culture festival.
Many districts have already started reaching out one by one to every youth—including those who attend district meetings regularly and those who do not—to encourage them to attend their youth culture festival. District chanting sessions are also springing up around the country, where district members come together to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for all of the youth to win in their daily lives through their practice of Nichiren Buddhism; to begin walking the path of the oneness of mentor and disciple; and to attend their respective youth culture festival.
In his recent essay "Our Foundation: Discussion Meetings," President Ikeda writes: "Discussion meetings are the starting point of the Soka Gakkai's growth. All our progress, development and victories derive from the momentum
created at our dynamic and invigorating discussion meetings" (March 19 World Tribune, p. 5).
It is our districts that will determine the success of the youth culture festivals in July. We have three more district discussion meetings between now and then. Let's have at least one Rock the Era district discussion meeting in which we set goals as a district, discuss how best to encourage every youth in the district to attend the festival, and share with
one another our personal dreams and goals toward July.
Appoint district youth leaders.
Discussing the role youth must play as the protagonists of our movement, President Ikeda recently quoted German author
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who "spoke of the importance of seeking bright, capable young people and giving them opportunities to show their abilities." President Ikeda goes on to say, "I now wish to call out with all
my heart: 'Let the path be open to the youth!' and 'Youth, open a great road to victory!'" (March 26 World Tribune, p. 5).
What better way to enable youth to develop themselves than learning to support others as district youth leaders, the
brightest stars of kosen-rufu!
If society genuinely believed that our youth are our future, we would spare no effort in fostering their potential. Far too often in America, youth are either marginalized or exploited. Many will enter adulthood unequipped to face the growing complexities of the 21st century, unsure how to live each day victoriously.
Rock the Era is the SGI-USA's answer to the question "What will the future of our nation be?" What began as an idea nearly six months ago has grown into a movement that has already profoundly shaped the future course of kosen-rufu in America. On July 10 and July 25, the youth of the SGI-USA will issue a clarion call to our counterparts across the world:
Stand up and fight! For the sake of justice, for the sake of the people, spread the great hope of
Nichiren Buddhism to every unlit street, every forgotten community and every suffering family! And together with our mentor,
let us erase the very word misery from the face of the earth!