Welcome to the
President of Soka Gakkai International,
Peace Proposal 1984
Building a United Movement for a World without War
A Proposal Commemorating the Ninth Soka Gakkai International Day, January 26, 1984.
A Crucial Year
Confusion and strife can be seen throughout the world, and conditions only grow worse as time goes by. Far from promising the creation of a new international order, the current situation is more unstable than ever before, and crisis is barely being held at bay. In this new age of nuclear instability, the dark cloud of the arms race hanging above grows blacker as fear and anxiety intensify. In such a world there can be neither stability nor order.
The fear of nuclear war has been intensified by the discontinuation of negotiations on the limitation of intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) in Europe and the indefinite suspension of the United States-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START). If a consensus between the two superpowers is not reached within the year and the race in deploying intermediate-range nuclear missiles in the European theater is renewed, tensions involving nuclear weapons will reach a dangerous climax. The hand of doomsday clock pictured in the American scientific journal, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (January 1984) stands at three minutes before midnight,the moment at which nuclear war will break out, ushering in the end of the world. At the end of 1953, that same clock showed two minutes before midnight. That was the year the Soviet Union conducted tests making it the second country, along with the United States, to possess a hydrogen bomb. The year 1984 is a crucial one, a year in which the world must turn toward disarmament, for the only alternative is ever-escalating arms expansion. The decision is up to the United States and the Soviet Union.
The television film The Day After, which depicted the horror of nuclear catastrophe, transfixed one hundred million viewers in the United States and aroused tremendous response in Japan as well. Part of it was broadcast on state-run television in the Soviet Union.
Earlier this year, a Soviet scientist announced the partial results of research, warning that a full-scale nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union would kill 1.1 billion people, that even survivors would be reduced to utter misery, and that the continued existence of the human species would be at stake. These predictions coincide with a description of nuclear war by the American science reporter Jonathan Schell in his book The Fate of the Earth. Though differences of ideologies and social systems are insignificant compared to the menace of nuclear war, the absurd race for superior arms—for more powerful means of mutual destruction—goes on because of the still strong belief in the validity of nuclear deterrence.
Bertrand Russell called nuclear weapons the absolute evil, and I fully concur. The evil lies not only in their overwhelming power to cause destruction and death, but also in the profound distrust emanating and growing out of their possession. It is this distrust that has created the so-called cult of deterrence, the belief that nuclear weapons are necessary for protection against nuclear weapons. Trust in nuclear arms is a negation of trust in humanity. The more people trust in arms, the less they trust each other. Ceasing to put their trust in arms is the only way to cultivate mutual trust among peoples.
Nuclear security and nuclear equilibrium are essentially impossible to achieve. Buddhism teaches the oneness of life and its environment (esho funi), which means that the subjective world is inseparably linked to the objective world. Because of this bond, as long as the objective environment includes the threat of nuclear weapons, humanity can know no peace.
The Danger of the Efficiency Principle
At the base of this erroneous policy of deterrence is the principle of efficiency, which has come to rule people's thinking in the modern world. Efficiency advocates stress the most effective, the most efficient, and the most convenient. Undeniably the pursuit of efficiency has stimulated scientific and materialistic advances. But its insidious tendency to reduce human beings to mere things is often overlooked.
At the height of the debate on nuclear deterrence, there was much talk of assured destruction, damage limitation, cost versus benefit ratio, and other similar terms. Such merciless and grotesque language derives from the cult of efficiency, which relegates human beings to the status of things and pursues expediency at the expense of countless human lives. Pernicious reasoning of this kind still rears its ugly head in different forms time and again. Recently, it has been governing the thinking of strategists who talk of nuclear preemptive strikes and nuclear arms control. As I have warned many times, it is the politicians and scientists—the elite of the nuclear civilization and establishment—who succumb most easily to the doctrine of efficiency.
Another manifestation of the efficiency-first syndrome is a kind of reductionism. Using this method of analyzing objects by reducing them to their simplest elements, modern science has made remarkable progress. While certain benefits have been derived from this approach, the emphasis on separate elements has meant sacrificing the comprehensive view of human life, including spiritual needs. This sacrifice to the god of efficiency has cast a dark shadow over all arms-reduction talks.
Deadlocked Disarmament Talks
The START and INF talks, especially the latter, seem hopelessly stalled and befuddled in a maze from which neither side can find an exit. One reason for the deadlock is overemphasis on parts at the expense of the whole. Perhaps advocates of nuclear stability and balance find it natural to categorize nuclear weapons into types and insist that separate talks be held for each category. But this apparently rational procedure has led them into total absorption with parts and ignorance of the whole issue before them. They cannot see the forest for the trees.
In spite of discussions about the capabilities of particular weapons and the number of agreements already reached, little progress has been made in connection with the whole issue. Current disarmament talks suffer from this critical blind spot.
But mere reduction or abolition of nuclear arms will not bring peace to the world. All the wars since the end of World War II have been fought with conventional weapons, the recent versions of which have tremendous destructive power. Moreover, nuclear and conventional weapons are inseparably connected. In short, reductions must be effected in both nuclear and conventional weapons.
The three hundred regional conflicts that have occurred since the end of World War II—many are still going on—are the result of various causes, particularly strife arising from racial or religious antipathy, which tends to be bitter and prolonged. With only a few exceptions, most modem wars have been initiated by sovereign states for motives of national gain and glory. At this very moment, thousands of people around the world are suffering became of the blind, stubborn wars among states.
In groping for workable answers that can lead to peace in the twenty-first century, we must examine the causes of strife in the period since World War II and hammer out effective methods for preventing war and preserving world peace. Concrete measures to institutionalize everlasting peace must be found. And it is toward this goal that all peoples must concentrate their intellectual powers. The most essential thing is a bold shift from parochial, nation-centered thinking to a global perspective. Increasing tension between the United States and the Soviet Union fans fires of continuing conflicts in various parts of the world.
As a Buddhist devoted to peace, I should like to offer some suggestions for a policy of peace for the twenty-first century.
The Peril of an Arms Race in Outer Space
Some time ago, astronaut Gerald P. Carr, who served as captain of Skylab 3, shared his thoughts on religion with me .
He said, "As a young Christian man, I conceived of God as a rather fatherly figure, one who was paternal and watched over all of us down here on the Earth. Maybe he pulled a string or two to make things happen and kind of guided our lives. After having seen space I was impressed by the great universal order of things. Today, I think that order of things in the universe is what we call God, or what other religions call something else. God is the understanding we have that there is order to all things in the universe. It is from this feeling of religion that l believe there is a common universality of all men. I think that is the basis for an understanding of the world community."
In reply, I said to Mr. Carr, "We call that order the Law, the Mystic Law that keeps harmony in the universe. It is the basic Law of all phenomena." No matter what name it is given, the idea expressed by Mr. Carr represents a dramatic shift from preoccupation with parts to an appreciation of the whole universe.
When I think of our great universe from the standpoint of peace and disarmament, I cannot suppress the gravest concern about the arms race that has recently begun in outer space. Reports mention the creation of anti-missile defense networks in outer space and the development of weapons capable of destroying enemy military satellites. Nothing could be more dangerous for the future of the world than an arms race in outer space between the United States and the Soviet Union. How much more sensible it would be to cease spending billions of dollars on armament and to channel that money into the common endeavor of mankind to preserve and guard our precious Earth. To this end Washington and Moscow must immediately conclude an agreement prohibiting the deployment of weapons in outer space and the use of force in, or directed from, outer space toward Earth. The greatest possible number of people must become aware of the very real danger of the arms race in outer space and create so great a force of world opinion that the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union are compelled to conclude such an agreement at once.
The year 1985 has been designated International Youth Year, and 1986 has been designated the International Year of Peace. Following that, the third special session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to disarmament will be convened by 1988. In order to maintain the dynamism of the movement for peace represented by these events into the twenty-first century, not only efforts in disarmament, but also the determination to attain a world without war must spread more widely and more energetically than ever before.
I emphasized the importance of a world without war in my conversation with Gerald P. Carr, and he wholeheartedly supported my concern. Unless the world is free of war, abolition of weapons is no more than a meaningless dream. In the past, while talking about disarmament, both the United States and the Soviet Union have busily expanded their arsenals, as if they were kicking each other in the shins while shaking hands. Only distrust can grow out of such talks, from which no real achievements can be expected.
More than talks on the technicalities of disarmament, humanity requires an awakening of determination to create a world without war. The more widespread and deep this determination, the more obvious the absurdity of the arms race will become. Only under such circumstances can there be progress in nuclear disarmament.
No matter how unrealistic it may seem to some people, the attainment of a world without war is more vital in this nuclear age than it has ever been in human history. Efforts at the grass-roots level have helped to spread awareness of the threat of nuclear weapons through out the world, and never before have so many human beings realized the absurdity of war as dearly as they do today.
Sentiments of the People
In 1948, at its third general assembly, the United Nations unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, of special significance as a model of the guarantee of human rights for all nations in the period after World War II, defines in detail individual freedoms and fundamental rights in the areas of economy, society, and culture. In 1966, the United Nations converted the declaration into the International Covenants on Human Rights, which are legally binding on all signatories.
I propose that the United Nations adopt a Universal Declaration Renouncing War. Consensus among nations on such a declaration would be an important breakthrough in actualizing eternal peace. Lest I be criticized for overoptimistically believing the goal can be attained at once, I further propose that, as a first step, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) begin the process by building up a foundation for the ultimate adoption of a Universal Declaration Renouncing War in the United Nations. Discussions between states tend to give priority to strategy and considerations of gain and loss, and this precludes consideration of the basic revulsion against war shared by people at the grass-roots level everywhere. Because of their nonpolitical nature, NGOs more accurately reflect the concerns of the ordinary people. Now, more urgently than ever, we must call on all peoples to contribute actively to generating a united movement in support of a world without war. Like the tributaries flowing into a mighty, invincible stream, the movement will gain new impetus from the International Year of Peace in 1986 and will provide the fundamental spirit for the Third Special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Disarmament. From this will emerge a global network of people who, abhorring war, encircle and restrain war-mongering superpowers.
The Ultimate Tragedy
I place great hope in the ability of young people to lead a dynamic movement in pursuit of a world without war. During International Youth Year, young people in NGOs across the world must link their efforts with the movement for peace, disarmament, and an ideal world without war.
I most earnestly call upon the youth of Soka Gakkai International to renew their determination to rid the world of war and to take the initiative in that endeavor.
As Professor John D. Montgomery, Chairman of the Department of Government of Harvard University, remarked when we met recently, both the winners and the losers in war suffer tragic losses. After its defeat in World War II, Japan promulgated what has come to be called the Peace Constitution, which renounces war, and the nation has enjoyed miraculous economic prosperity. Although a winner in the same war, the United States has been involved in a succession of military conflicts including the Korean War and the Vietnam War, in which an immense number of human lives were lost. We must always remember that, in the words of Josei Toda, "War is barbarous and inhuman. Nothing is more cruel, nothing more tragic.
Renouncing all war is absolutely necessary for the survival of the human race in the nuclear age. Since even conventional war can escalate into nuclear war, complete freedom from fighting is indispensable to the survival of mankind. The twenty-first century is fast approaching. Our organization will continue to strive for the cause of realizing a world without war and, at the same time, trust the sensible young people of the world to launch a new age, an age of no war. Now is the time when a bold first step must be made toward eternal peace, the goal long cherished by the peoples of the world.
Daisaku Ikeda - January 26, 1984
Each year since 1983, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) President Daisaku Ikeda presents peace proposals on behalf of the international lay Buddhist organization, to which Soka Gakkai belongs. In them, he articulates Buddhist ideals and philosophy as a framework for addressing the manifold problems our global society faces in its efforts to realize human security and world peace.
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