50,000 Lions of Justice Festival Mission Statement
1. Our Goal
At the Lions of Justice Festival on September 23, young people from all backgrounds will gather in nine locations to stand up for the dignity of life—to proclaim that all people are worthy of respect and must be treated with the dignity they deserve.
Through musical performances, films, inspiring speakers and the shared experiences of youth taking action in their daily lives to transform society, we will further affirm our determination to make the 21st century one of lasting peace and awaken profound courage and hope in our friends, families and communities throughout the country.
2. What is a Lion of Justice
What is a Lion of Justice? A person who:
Courageously faces and overcomes any obstacles that stand between themselves and their dreams;
Fearlessly challenges the ways of thinking that justify hate, violence and discrimination; and
Can joyfully unite with people of all walks of life toward developing a society based on the happiness of all people.
To develop into this kind of person and never give up in the face of opposition can be a challenge. Therefore, we need to be unbending in the face of obstacles, just like a roaring lion.
The currents of society have taken an unfortunate turn in the direction of division and isolation. Many are polarized politically, suspicious of those who are different and take refuge in social media bubbles.
While we see glimmers of humanism in our society, it’s also undeniable that domestic violence, school shootings, discrimination based on race or gender, and environmental destruction persist and have even become more prevalent.
Looming over this is the threat of nuclear weapons, which threatens the right of all people to exist.
What is at the root of these problems? Buddhist philosophy teaches that social ills stem from the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance that exist in the hearts of people. For example, greed gives rise to economic inequality and hunger; anger, to hatred and discrimination, violence, to war; and ignorance, to environmental destruction.
What is the answer? It is for people to stand up in solidarity with the awareness that all life is precious and the solution lies in directly confronting the greed, anger and ignorance that lies within the human heart. This can only happen when diverse groups of people unite through shared respect and understanding.
4. AN APPEAL TO THE YOUTH OF THE WORLD
On June 5, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel released a joint statement appealing to the youth of the world to unite and work together to develop solutions to various problems plaguing the world. They cited issues such as poverty, hunger, climate change, nuclear weapons, stateless refugees and so forth. This appeal perfectly resonates with the purpose of the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, as we are seeking to unite young people to create an era where hope and the respect for all people become the key factors guiding our world. In the appeal, Dr. Ikeda and Dr. Esquivel stated in part:
“We direct our call to the young people of the world. There is no challenge that cannot be resolved if we unite in solidarity. We are confident that young people will take up the search for solutions, acting in solidarity from within their respective places of belonging across all differences of spiritual and cultural identity to generate waves of dynamic, shared action.”
In addition, they called on the youth to take action based on three-step approach:
Promote a common awareness of a universal sense of history in order to prevent the repetition of tragedies.
Promote the understanding that Earth is our common home, where no one is to be excluded on the basis of difference.
Promote the humane orientation of politics and economics, cultivating the wisdom needed to achieve a sustainable future
We, the youth of the Soka Gakkai International-USA, take pride in the origin of our movement, with founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s struggle against the oppression of the Japanese fascist government during World War II. Mr. Makiguchi was jailed for his pacifist beliefs and eventually died in prison, a martyr to his beliefs. Our legacy of countering authoritarianism and empowering common people inspired us to initiate this festival, where we will express the passion and power of youth to transform society for the better and achieve personal happiness.
On September 23, we will declare:
Enough is enough! We will create a society based on hope and respect!
David Witkowski – National Youth Leader
Olivia Saito – National Young Women’s Leader
Michael O’Malley – National Young Men’s Leader