Opening of the Exhibition, Oslo City Hall Gallery in Norway

April 15, 2009

It is a great joy to be able to hold the exhibition “From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit” at the City Hall of Oslo, this beautiful Scandinavian city surrounded by green mountains and blue fjords. On behalf of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) members in 192 countries and territories worldwide, I would like to express our most heartfelt gratitude for this opportunity.

In August 2006, I proposed a UN Decade of Action by the World’s People for Nuclear Abolition. In making this proposal, I was motivated by the conviction that, as the 2007 Oslo Process later proved, it is vital for so-called ordinary citizens and civil society to take the lead in generating a powerful global groundswell of public opinion for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In September 2007, the SGI launched the People’s Decade for Nuclear Abolition, initiating a broad-based effort to build collaborative endeavors with a wide range of international anti-nuclear movements and organizations who share the goal of a nuclear-free world. That year marked 50 years since the 1957 declaration by the second president of the Soka Gakkai, Josei Toda, in which he denounced nuclear weapons as an “absolute evil” and called for their complete elimination. As part of the launch for the People’s Decade, the SGI developed the exhibition we see here today. To date, this exhibition has been held in a total of 13 countries, including showings in New York and Geneva.

One of the principal aims of this exhibition is to set out the broad vision of a culture of peace, predicated on the concept of human security, and to encourage people to take action toward its realization. The most crucial element in any effort to build a culture of peace must ultimately be a profound change in the inner life of each individual. This is the core message embodied in the title of the exhibition: transforming the human spirit. I am convinced that the best means of encouraging such a transformation is through dialogue with others conducted with an open mind and without preconditions. Earnest dialogue has the potential to positively change the mindsets that drive conflict and animosity; it can enable people to establish friendship and solidarity across the differences of their respective positions. It can generate empathy and a shared commitment to living in harmony. It is through dialogue that we come to recognize that there is no such thing as happiness limited to ourselves alone, nor suffering that afflicts only others.

Today, one of the primary obstacles to furthering the cause of nuclear weapons abolition is a lessened sense of urgency regarding the threat they pose. If we are to revive and reenergize momentum toward abolition, we must first challenge the sense of resignation that leads people to accept the continued existence of nuclear weapons, viewing them as a kind of necessary evil. We must remind people that these weapons—which instantly rob vast numbers of people of life and inscribe a multigenerational legacy of suffering—are fundamentally incompatible with the conscience of humankind. We need to reawaken a commonsense recognition of the folly of committing high levels of monetary, technical and human resources to their development, deployment and maintenance. We must work to make the wisdom of a world without nuclear weapons apparent to all people everywhere.

The path to the “mountain peak” of nuclear weapons abolition and a convention comprehensively outlawing them has not been and will not be an easy one. At times, we will find the highest reaches obscured by clouds. But if we maintain our firm determination and commitment, the clouds are certain to clear. We can surely attain the sublime goal of a nuclear-weapons free world. I am convinced that human beings are best able to advance, not when driven by fear of catastrophe, but when guided by the prospect of hope-filled objectives.

Together with SGI members throughout the world I would like to express our unchanging vow to work for the cause of nuclear disarmament and abolition. We look forward to continuing to share this important work with all our distinguished friends and colleagues.

In closing, please be assured of my heartfelt best wishes for the good health and success of all in attendance today.

Daisaku Ikeda
Soka Gakkai International

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