Before we begin, let us be clear that this is not an attack on any particular individual. Nor is it to find fault or to assign blame. We wanted to share what we see and observed, and what we think is not right with the system. We cannot move ahead if we do not reflect and review these flaws thoroughly. We invite all members of SGM to ponder and discuss in this open forum.
[Chiefs here refer to the various head of division, like the MD, WD, YMD, YWD, SD, HSD, JD, Cultural, etc. ]
Issue one – Chiefs are too busy.
Wearing too many hats at once. Often, when we do not have enough leaders, vice chiefs, at SGM level, we would pull the most outstanding person from the Region level. But the Region will fall apart if this person is not there. So, we ask the person to play dual roles. ‘Cum’ is the word. For the sake of kosen-rufu and wanting to fight with Sensei, are the two most common and persuasive reasons given by SGM. At times, three, four, even five hats. They agree most of the time, and eventually, failed at one, or two or entirely to function effectively.
For example, the SGM MD chief. He is in the General Council, a Vice President, the ECC, the CSC, Chairman of TSS Board, Chief of Beacon Group [medical profession] and as well as the Vice General Director. MD Chief alone would be enormous, with 14 states to lead.
The question is – Is it fair and reasonable to ask one person to do so many things? Can he really have the energy and ability to juggle so many balls in the air? Can he do a good job? Don’t forget, he also needs to earn a living, provide for the family, and play the roles of a father, a son and a husband. This is not unique to the MD Chief alone. In fact, if we look into the Youth Division, similar situations occur. Many Chiefs do not even get enough sleep for long period, and dark rings formed around the eyes are permanent features.
Issue two – Appointment of new Chief
Many of our new chiefs of various positions in SGM were given two to three days notice. Are we kidding? No, it is true. For Chief positions. Many were stunt [who wouldn’t?] and caught totally off guard. After some persuading and pleading, usually the two reasons stated above, they relent and accept the new appointment. Some were put into position to head an entire division yet have close to zero knowledge and experience in that particular division.
The out-going Chiefs were seldom consulted as to the preferred successors. They also got two days notice to vacate. This made the job of the new chief especially difficult in handing over. Hand over process is merely a one or two superficial meetings and jamming lots of information into the new chief within that few hours. Effective? The new Chiefs have to resort to the one and only mean of survival – learning on the job.
Being a chief of a division in SGM is similar to being a Head of Department, or a director in a large organization. Common sense will tell us that for one who is not prepared or fostered, disaster will happen and the growth and development of that division will be compromised. Moreover, without a proper handover, the good work and result of many years of construction and planning and execution of the out-going chief, all but eliminated in an instant. Destruction comes in a moment, construction after a fierce struggle. It is very painful to see this kind of destruction.
Issue three – Their personal lives
Many do not have good relationships with their family, a very small circle of friendship outside SGM, or none at all, not trusted in their workplace, and even health problem. The reason is that these top leaders often find themselves hardly any time left for themselves and their friends and family.
A member recently told me that she wanted to discuss a personal problem with the Region Youth Leader and had been trying to book an appointment for the past one month. Unsuccessful. So, what do chief do? Chief refer. Each time, when the case of a YMD here or there arise, top leaders would assign the leaders in that district to visit the person. Not that the top leaders are without compassion, but with so many hats and endless meetings and deadlines, they do not have time to meet and encourage members one-to-one.
Another case, a YWD top leader was being courted by a young man, Soka friend, that was interested in her. The young man gave up eventually, after numerous attempts to date her failed. She simply got no time for dating. Sounds familiar? We believe we have heard many such cases before.
As the problem in family or relationship worsens, some leaders chose to bury themselves in Gakkai activities all the time. Thus, SGM has become a shelter from the storm rather than a place to foster oneself.
Issue four – Lack of focus on one’s growth and practice
Chiefs in SGM often rally other leaders by quoting Sensei guidance and numerical targets. Urging others to do shakubuku and human revolution. Parroting guidance from SGI seminar, they call it kenshu, as something new to share. [We never quite get it. Isn’t the same guidance that was published in Flow and Cosmic? Somehow, it is special because they heard it in Japan?]
But few would have their own experience and joy to share. Can’t blame them also on the shakubuku area. If they do not have friends outside Gakkai, who are they going to shakubuku? And if chiefs are not leading by example, how are they going to convince other leaders to strive wholeheartedly towards the goal of shakubuku set by SGM?
We have been youth leaders before and we notice that many top leaders were shy or feel reluctant to share guidance, gosho lecture or give encouragement during meetings. The reason is because many knew that they were not convincing and unable to impart joy, hope and courage to the audience. Why? Because it is not emanating from their own practice. Again, this is not their fault. They are too tired and exhausted with so many Gakkai activities and wearing way too many hats.
Kosen-rufu is a very long struggle. It is a march that will continue over the ten thousand years of the Latter Day of the Law. Therefore, let us advance joyfully and unhurriedly. Activities must not be conducted in such a way that people suffer and become exhausted. Meetings should be short and not too numerous and conducted so that they are valuable and productive for all concerned.
Daisaku Ikeda, SGI President
[To be continued… ]