Daisaku Ikeda Welcomes New Students to the Soka Community
I would like to express my heartfelt felicitations to the proud and poised members of the Undergraduate Class of 2024 and Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Societal Change Program of Soka University of America, all of you whom I cherish deeply.
Furthermore, I extend my lasting appreciation and congratulations to your families for supporting your decision to enroll in SUA.
As to Ed Feasel, our new university president, as well as to the faculty, administrative staff, and the entire student body, I ask all of you whom I trust implicitly—join me in the care and counsel of our newly enrolled students, for they are truly exceptional and represent the jewels of humanity.
Construction of the much-anticipated Marie and Pierre Curie Hall has finally been completed and courses of the Life Sciences concentration are about to commence. Allow me therefore to offer a few words of encouragement on this day from which you set forth anew with stout hearts filled with the exhilaration of tackling new challenges—words that I hope to share as if I stand before you at this very moment, meeting your gaze and etching each and every one of your vibrant, valiant faces in the depths of my life.
Humanity today is beset by a multitude of difficulties, from the pandemic to climate change and other natural disasters. Where then are we to discover the key to unlocking a way out of this vexing age to a brighter future?
Among the many conclusions I reached in my dialogues with such globally recognized thinkers as the historian Arnold J. Toynbee, is that they held faith in the creative energy dwelling deep within a person’s life and in the capacity of humanistic education to draw out and direct such energy.
The futurist Hazel Henderson is also a believer, insisting that “as long as we keep our faith, adversity provides a favorable wind for growth,” and that every crisis can serve as an opportunity for great change. Dr. Henderson herself had braved opposition and obstacles in her battle against serious environmental pollution; moreover, she has been tireless as an activist for and leader of a grassroots civic movement to advance sustainable development. She stands among the many who look to this university with unbounded expectations.
SUA was founded as an institute of higher learning as a beacon to cast the light of hope upon the twenty-first century. Nothing has ever prevented the university from graduating a steady procession of capable individuals to forge paths for the creation of new value for our world. SUA was never daunted by the fear and uncertainty that rose from 9/11 terrorist attacks that occurred soon after this institution opened, by the global financial crisis that followed, by any ensuing maelstrom since then.
In carrying out your studies, I realize that the pandemic will prove challenging, having to take classes online, just to cite one example. Yet, all that you learn and experience despite such difficulties will nourish the profound creative energy that you possess, enabling you to apply it to maximum effect.
A youthful life resolved to continue learning, come what may, can never be defeated.
Nelson Mandela and I envisioned young global citizens uniting to uphold equality and human dignity for all. A towering champion of human rights who altered the course of history through dialogue to facilitate nonviolence, Madiba* stated that one of the most difficult things in life is “changing yourself.”
Soka Education is this grand challenge: to realize this most arduous quest for what we term “human revolution” not only for oneself but for others, to better our respective societies and countries, to eventually transform even the destiny of all humanity. To the members of faculty, staff, fellow students, and alumni who have gathered here under the sublime principles upon which SUA was founded, I ask that you remain forever true to this quest. Do so with wisdom, patience, and joy as you strive to hone yourselves while encouraging one another, to advance as one.
My abiding hope is that you will go forth, growing ever more capable, to become stalwart pioneers in the creation of a truly new global civilization.
May you all, without exception, lead lives of triumph and success in good health.
Founder, Soka University of America
August 10, 2020
*Mr. Ikeda makes reference to “Madiba,” a term of endearment conveying respect and affection for Mr. Mandela and is his family ancestral name.