From Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury
Following is the text of the message Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations and Founder of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace, sent on the occasion of the 90h birthday of Daisaku Ikeda, peacebuilder, Buddhist philosopher, educator, author and poet, and President of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), based in Tokyo.
NEW YORK – My life partner Mariam and I have immense pleasure and deep honor in sending to President Daisaku Ikeda our joyous felicitations and fondly respectful greetings on the occasion of his very auspicious and uniquely significant 90th birth anniversary on 2 January 2018.
The second day of January is not a simple date on the annual calendar – it is the day which gifted humanity with an extraordinary person like Daisaku Ikeda. His life, his teachings and endless empathy for all is a blessing for humanity. In fact, he should be in our thoughts every day and we should internalize his message, reflect him in our lives so that we can all live for the greater good of all.
President Ikeda’s own life is a brilliant manifestation of his whole-hearted dedication and commitment for the good of humanity. He has given the humankind the hope and direction to face in the true spirit the complexity and challenges of today’s world. I pay tribute to his creative energy and his intellectual expanse to elaborate and articulate the dimensions of human values and ideals to bring out the best amongst each one of us. I feel very blessed and proud to be living in the era of Dr. Ikeda.
My meetings with him over the years have strengthened again and again my conviction that our world is in need of the dedication and guidance of a personality like him to spread the message of peace, development and human rights so that our planet becomes a better place to live for all. We are enormously inspired by his assertion that the culture of peace should be the foundation of the new global civilization and by his eloquent emphasis on the empowerment of people as a major element in creating the culture of peace with the emergence of women in leading the way for that.
President Ikeda’s championship of the cause of disarmament, in particular elimination of nuclear-weapons, has been outstanding as the abolition of nuclear weapons has assumed new urgency in view of the uncertainty and insecurity that the world is passing through at the present time. He also highlights the economic implications of nuclear weapons with attendant development impact through diversion of scarce resources.
In this context, the Fourth Annual Dialogue on the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, launched in 2014 at the initiative of the Soka University of America, focused on the theme, “Advancing the Cause of Disarmament for Development”. Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter and South African parliamentarian Ela Gandhi was the keynote speaker at 2017 SUA Dialogue which I had honor of moderating on 2 October. Its thematic focus was most appropriate given the increasing tensions throughout the world amid the reality of growing nuclear and military proliferation, while at the same time success in poverty reduction continues to be an elusive objective as income and gender inequality become more pronounced with increasing disparity and depravation. Given this reality, the disarmament for development agenda highlights the importance of understanding the tradeoff between using resources for military proliferation versus directing them toward expanding elimination of poverty and ensuring sustainable development for our people and our planet. In articulating the theme, we have been inspired by the University Founder Dr. Ikeda’s outspoken advocacy on the importance of disarmament following in the footsteps of his mentor Josei Toda who called for the abolition of nuclear weapons in 1957, and his assertion that sizeable benefit could rebound to humanity if the resources dedicated to conventional and nuclear weapons proliferation could be directed instead to support sustainable development goals.
It is remarkable that the United Nations finally adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – world’s first legally-binding treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons – on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of President Toda’s Declaration calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. SGI’s serious engagement in this regard over the years has been outstanding.
At this point, it is a pleasure for me to inform that beginning 8 January, I am committed to continue my course on “The Culture of Peace” at Dr. Ikeda’s own beloved institution, the Soka University of America for the eighth time in its annual Learning Cluster programme. It is always such a spirit-uplifting experience to interact with the SUA students who, enriched by the Founder’s focus on value-creation, earnestly strive to become true global citizens.
Our spirits are always uplifted when we recall President Ikeda’s remarkable words which expressed that “real happiness is not the absence of any problems, difficulties, or suffering, rather whenever you find yourself beset by some new harsh trial, adopt a positive attitude and face it bravely as an opportunity to strengthen yourself”. Those words by him have instilled such courage and forbearance in us and surely for many more.
Mariam and I continue to pray for President Ikeda’s good health and a long and happy life so that we and millions more throughout the globe continues to benefit from his wisdom and leadership for many more years to come. Mariam and I would like also to express our immense gratefulness for the friendship and graciousness that President and Mrs Ikeda have extended to us over the years. We have always been honored to receive their ever-flowing love, affection and warmth. – 7 January 2018
Top Photo: Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations. Credit: Mitsu (Eric) Kimura, SUA Archivist.
2nd Photo left: Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury (right) and Daisaku Ikeda (August 2006, at Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall, Hachioji). Credit: www.daisakuikeda.org