Founder's Message - 18th Commencement Ceremony
Message from SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda to the Class of 2022
Now more than ever, I ask you to manifest the true value of Soka’s global citizens, doing so in good cheer with wisdom and resilience, to brighten our world in this century from the stage of your respective mission in life.
To the Soka University of America Undergraduate Class of 2022 and to the Master’s Program of Educational Leadership and Societal Change Class of 2022: My heartfelt felicitations on this glorious occasion of your graduation! My felicitations extend to your families as well, for they surely had to endure extraordinary difficulties in these troubled times to arrive at this victorious moment together with you.
As to the SUA faculty and staff, along with everyone else who cared for and fostered these prodigal students, the veritable treasure of humanity, my gratitude is as profound as it is lasting.
My beloved graduates, precisely because you stand today on the cusp of an arduous journey in an era of trial and turmoil, I offer these words on your departure: Summon forth resounding courage and exercise your true worth as global citizens of Soka.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stands as a convention to which every global citizen should abide. Austregésilo de Athayde, the former President of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, was instrumental in the document’s drafting. I had the privilege of publishing a dialogue with him in the latter years of his life; in our discourse, he spoke on his role in getting the historic Declaration adopted in 1948.
At the time, the world was mired in the Cold War between East and West, with deep rifts in the state of political affairs, ideologies and creeds, divisions that led to heated clashes among opposing parties that threatened to derail the Declaration’s adoption.
What, then, was Mr. Athayde’s focal strategy to defuse the situation? As he recalled, “to promote spiritual bonds among the peoples of the world; that is to say, the promotion of spiritual globalism.”
Through persistent dialogue, Mr. Athayde brought participants to reacknowledge their shared humanity, guiding them to embrace objectives worthwhile for all. His effort eventually untangled the roots of conflict, and the Declaration was ultimately adopted.
I cannot help but feel that his struggle sublimely overlaps with yours. For you have honed your competence as “peace builders,” engaging in passionate discussions with your friends gathered here on campus from across the world as you pursued your studies and learned from one another—doing so despite the constraints and challenges imposed by the covid pandemic. Dr. Shirin Ebadi, our guest of honor today, has remained steadfast in her advocacy of and activism for human rights and humanitarian causes, undaunted by imprisonment for her beliefs and other life-threatening acts of intimidation.
In her address when awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Ebadi evinced the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to declare the following:
If the 21st century wishes to free itself from the cycle of violence … there is no other way except by understanding and putting into practice every human right for all mankind, irrespective of race, gender, faith, nationality, or social status.
You are all in solidarity, brought together by your respect for human dignity; you embody a philosophy that upholds the sanctity of life and have nurtured the capacity to create constructive value. Now more than ever, I ask you to manifest the true value of Soka’s global citizens, doing so in good cheer with wisdom and resilience, to brighten our world in this century from the stage of your respective mission in life.
I will continue to pray for your health, happiness, glory and victory, my thoughts always with you, my precious friends, as if we are sitting together by the Peace Lake gazing out to its ever-sparkling waters.
Allow me to conclude my felicitations with these words: May you, my friends, be the light that casts hope for all global citizens!
Soka University of America
May 27, 2022