Youth and the City of Florence

The most painful thing to watch is the lost of passion for kosen-rufu in our youth leaders. The future of SGM is determine by youth. Youth is our hope, our future and all effort must be taken to ensure that our youth continue to grow and develop into capable leaders of SGM. The present crisis had affected many of our youth in their faith and commitment to SGM. On the same note, this crisis can also be a great opportunity for our youth to grow and learn into truly capable leaders in future.

What are the common responds of our youth leaders so far? They can be loosely categorised into five main groups.

  1. NOMB – None of my business.
  2. BANF – Betrayed, angry and frustrated
  3. J-LAO – Just listen and obey
  4. TWWB – Those who went ballistic
  5. PANM – Protect and nurture members

NOMB – It’s none of my business. I don’t know much and also not interested to know. I don’t care. This is one of the common respond among our youth. They feel that this crisis happen in a faraway, or high up places, and it has little to do with them. In the end, the corrupt and power hungry will surely suffer due to the law of causality. Let’s not allow this matter to disturb the peace in my local area, they will say. I really don’t need this.

BANF – We have trusted SGM so completely all these years, and such things happening in our own backyard is simply unbelievable. How can SGM protect the [alleged] corrupt and be so unfair to the whistle-blowers? After all, they are just whistle-blowers and should not be sacked from their position. This is wrong. But then, this group also do not have all the information. Also, if they speak up without full information, they might be countered and warned that they are affecting members’ faith and creating bad causes in their lives. They don’t know what to do and they feel powerless.

J-LAO – SGM did not become this big overnight. We have grown and developed so much due to the sincere effort and fierce struggles of our pioneers and the present top leaders. The General Director himself is appointed by Mr Ikeda himself. All actions by the top leaders must have good reasons, even reasons that cannot share with us. Things must be more complicated than what meets the eye. We better let our top leaders settle the matter and we need to give our full support to them. Also, there is a high possibility that they are some people with evil intent who wanted to wrest control of the organisation. We better keep our mouth shut and must be careful not to be influenced, or worse, used by the dark side.

TWWB – This group get very angry and started to scold and argue with strong emotions. There is no grey area. It is either white or black. Any grey would be a compromise. And they don’t do compromise. Many of them are sincere and absolutely earnest leaders in kosen-rufu. Many among them are the most hardworking and were the pillars of their respective community. SGM is an organisation that they loved very much and that is the reason why such strong reaction coming from them.

PANM – This group feels that protecting members and guarding their faith is their number one priority. Regardless of who is right or wrong, this crisis should never be allowed to affect the members’ faith, which are sincere and fragile. Once the trust is lost, it will be a really hard time winning it back. Thus, they use all their energy in grassroots activities. The organisation belongs to the members of SGM, not the leaders. The leaders are servant. Thus, we must protect the members first, no matter what. They have little patience and even feel annoyed by those who claim to fight for the oppressed and against corrupted leaders, yet did not lift a finger at local activity in taking care of the members.

These groupings do not include everyone and it is not a clear cut categorisation. Regardless of what is said and done, the purpose of this exercise is to raise awareness that there are various opinions, different people, reacting differently to this crisis. There are no absolute right or wrong. The first thing we must learn is to transcend our differences, embrace our differences and continue to respect each and every individual as a Buddha with a unique mission. Discard hatred. Discard mutual suspicion and mistrust. Of course, easier said than done. Yet, we must try.

Discard looking down on people who have a different opinion from us. We must be able to transcend it and still be able to work together with one another. We cannot give up. We must try. Often, it is people who disagree with us most, those that we find revolting, that enable us to grow and learn, and polish our character. Enable us to attain Buddhahood.  This is also the spirit of many in body, one in mind.

So, how should we respond to this crisis? As a passive bystander? As a spectator? Or be actively on the offensive, instigating people to stand up? We are sorry to disappoint for we have no answer for this. we believe there is no one size fits all, silver bullet, type of catch all answer. Each person is different and reacts differently based on their life state.

There are a few key points that we can use as a general guide. Also, these are just our ideas. You judge them for yourselves, never outsource your thinking to others. Even the stuff you are reading right now. Ask yourself, is it right? Is it reasonable?

  • Never leave the organisation. You may feel disappointed or powerless to affect any form of change at the moment. But changing the environment will not solve any problem. The fate of SGM and that of our lives are intertwined. We shared the same karma. We work to polish ourselves and transform this organisation’s karma. We cannot do anything being on the outside.
  • Visit the 8th floor of WKSGM, Dialogue with nature. Stand in front of the city of Florence photo. In his photo essay, Mr Ikeda wrote, ‘Art lives long. Power is short-lived. The complex intrigue and cunning schemes of the past have been washed away by the river time, and only culture, into which the people have put their heart and soul, remains, unaging and undying. A youth into which one has poured one’s heart and soul never withers.’ Take this beautiful caption to heart. All the fighting, hanging on to positions and cunning schemes are insignificant in the passage of time. But our efforts in fostering our youth, encouraging our members, developing ourselves and protecting our members’ faith, that’s art. That’s unaging. That will shine brilliantly in the future. As youth, we must have patience. Nothing great is ever achieved easily. Look at the photo again.
  • Read Mr Ikeda guidance and writings earnestly. New Human Revolution in particular. We must get closer to Mr Ikeda in order to understand and be able to see clearly what we should do and how we can protect SGM and the members. Chant and read and chant some more. Think and reflect. This is the best time to study and deepen our understanding of Mr Ikeda’s heart. When we engage in these activities, we are turning poison into medicine.
  • Read more good books. Make it a habit. This is a key guideline that Mr Ikeda set for the High School Division. There is no substitute. One got to read good books. In the present crisis, many people find it difficult to express or articulate what is wrong. Thus, they choose to forward emails and WhatsApp messages of other people, but cannot come up with anything original or counter an argument with good reasons and strong supporting points. It is better to read something, digest it and then, share it with others with your own convictions, rather than passively forwarding the mails.
  • Have this strong awareness that – ‘I am the president of the Soka Gakkai. I am also the foot soldier of the Soka Gakkai.’ Look at the big picture and think long term. Mr Ikeda needs true disciple, not just disciple. Successors, not followers. Tell ourselves, I will certainly repay my debts of gratitude to Mr Ikeda by protecting this organisation against corrupt and evil forces, and protecting our precious members from being conned.
  • Gain trust and be an indispensable person in work, in family and in Gakkai. Work like mad for kosen-rufu and show actual proof in our human revolution. Be victorious in our lives and in Gakkai as well. Youth is a time for construction. The hardships that we take on today, on our own accord, will become invaluable treasures later on in our life. Only then others will start listening to us. Otherwise, we can continue to shout but we will never persuade.

These are the building blocks. Everything starts with a vow. Renew that vow. To fight alongside our mentor, Mr Ikeda. All suggestions outline here may seem to be of little relevance of the crisis we are facing today. But it does. The only way for us to build a strong, clean and united SGM is to increase the forces of good people. These forces are not just kind but timid, sheep-like people. We must be kind and capable, courageous and wise. Evil will not be able to gain even a toehold in SGM if there are sufficient wise people. But without sufficient wise people in SGM, there is no point in changing top leadership. It will only be changing dictator and not dictatorship. In Mr Ikeda words..

It is my most heartfelt wish that all the youth here today will continue to develop themselves and become core leaders who are 10 or 20 times more capable than those at the helm now. This is because everything hinges on the organisation’s leadership.

Engrave this guidance in our heart.

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