Interview with David Krieger for The Third Civilization magazine in Japan

“I don’t think any declaration can really give hope, I think hope comes from action, when you engage, when you take the first step, you begin to build hope, and it’s a circle, the more you build hope, the more you do, the more you do, the more you build hope, and so, to have hope in a meaningful way, the person has toengage, theyhave to give something of themselves to the issue, they have to say, “this is important for me enough to spend some of my time and some of my resources in trying to achieve; but, to sit back and say, “Oh wasn’t that a nice declaration that somebody made 50 years ago,” for me, that’s in a way, abdicating hope, so, hope is in the action, hope is the doing, and if that declaration can motivate people to action, then we can say it’s given hope to a new generation. Words alone aren’t enough, but if they can inspire someone to action, that’s a mean of hope.”

Dr. David Krieger, President of The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

 

“In Mr. Toda’s declaration, he called for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. That has never been more important then it is today、and it’s not happening. The countries that have nuclear weapons aren’t taking their obligations seriously, and they have actual obligations under international law to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, but they’re not doing that, they’re not even engaged in good faith negotiations, despite their obligations and despite their promises to do so within the Non Proliferation Treaty,. They’re not, and so the non nuclear weapons states are becoming frustrated I think, and so, some of them are going to try to develop nuclear programs as India did, and as Pakistan did, because as India says “they are willing to live in a world without nuclear weapons, but they’re not willing to live in a world in which some countries have nuclear weapons and other countries don’t have nuclear weapons.”

 

It’s got to be a level playing field and that’s the bargain that’s contained in the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, and it’s the bargain that’s not being lived up to by the United States and the other nuclear weapons states. And so I fully agree with President Toda, we need to abolish nuclear weapons, I also agree with him, that we need to develop a huge youth movement, if that’s going to succeed; young people have to learn about this issue, have to engage in it, have to demand that the world they grow up in, live in, is going to be a world without nuclear weapons; one of the concrete things we are doing to promote that idea, and I would say it’s very much in accord with President Toda’s declaration and his request, or demand, I’m not sure exactly what it is, his call upon young people to take a leading role. 

 

Because of the speech by President Toda, there is a solid basis for activities by SGI, and I know from my conversations and dialogue with President Ikeda that he believes deeply in that call to abolish nuclear weapons, and so I think it’s a natural fit for SGI to engage itself in this issue.

 

We’re coming up on the 50th anniversary of President Toda’s speech; 50 years is a long time, 1957-2007; and if you look around the world at what’s going on, there are still more than 30,000 weapons in the world; we still have a long way to go; and what P. Toda said nearly 50 years ago remains valid today;not only do we need to abolish nuclear weapons, but the young people need to embrace this issue, and the only way young people are going to embrace this issue is that if they have some mentoring and teaching from other people who know about the issues; I think the older generation, or the generation that was children almost 50 years ago when President Toda spoke are now older mature people, at least in middle age, and they shouldn’t give up, they have not only to continue the struggle as President Toda encouraged them, but they also in addition have the responsibility to pass this same message on, to the next generation, and if that responsibility isn’t fulfilled, then it’s very likely that we’re going to see more Hiroshimas and more Nagasakis, that’s the path that we’re on right now; the path that we’re on now is for countries with nuclear weapons to believe that these weapons provide them with security, and if they provide the United States with security, isn’t it reasonable to assume that leaders in countries like North Korea would believe that they would provide security all the more so for them, because they are so much weaker, and the countries that have nuclear weapons are not doing a service to themselves or their citizens by not taking a leadership role in trying to eliminate these weapons. The longer the weapons are in the arsenals of individual countries, the higher the likelihood that they will be used again in a devastating way.

 

I’ve thought many times about the declaration of President Toda, and how important it is within the context of the both the world we live in general and Soka Gakkai in particular, and I see Soka Gakkai International as an organization that is capable of doing wonderful things, they really lift their members up, and they give them altruistic goals, they help educate them on socially important issues. President Ikeda has been a very significant world leader for peace, and his ideas are transmitted to SGI members on an annual basis, so SGI has a lot of potential to help people;

 

One of the foundational documents of SGI is the Toda declaration, I think, so, it’s not so soon, this is 2005, and the 50th anniversary is 2007; I’d love to see SGI begin to organize a major movement starting with its own members throughout the world, calling for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons, and the education of youth into the process of achieving this goal, and to base it on not only on pragmatic ground but also on spiritual grounds, because any country that relies on nuclear weapons for its security is undermining its soul, in a way, if you can says a nation has soul, if you rely upon weapons of mass murder to protect you, it can’t help but scar your soul, and Ghandi said something that I think is very relevant. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he said “we’ve seen what these weapons do to the victims, what’s too early to see is what these weapons will do the souls of those who use them,” and I think that nuclear weapons are a very corruptive and a very corrosive influence on the souls of those who possess them, and so I think there is a significant spiritual element involved with trying to rid the world of these weapons, and move to a more compassionate and humanitarian plane, where people are treated with dignity and respect, rather than being simply targets and potential victims of mass destruction.

 

As I mentioned to you I have been contemplating writing something that would try to reengage members of SGI in this quest for a nuclear weapons free world based on Mr. Toda’s Declaration 50 years ago, and mainly I think it should be thought of as a point of inspiration, but what I would like to see specifically is to see SGI mobilize all of its resources or a large portion of its resources around this issue and make a strong drive to educate young people to have petition drives to involve artistic expression, poetry and art, on a worldwide effort, and SGI is in a position to do that because it has chapters around the world, so why not?

 

And maybe SGI can’t solve this problem alone, maybe it has to work with others to succeed in doing it, but it can play a significant role if it would put its energies and focus and resources behind finding a solution to this issue as called for byMr.. Toda 50 years ago; and as called for consistently thereafter by President Ikeda

 

The biggest thing that needs to be achieved is the global political will to abolish these weapons, once the political will is in place, the other things will fall into place easily, and until the political will is in place, nothing will fall into place easily.; so it’s a question of generating political will, and that’s a huge process but it becomes with each individual coming together to work with other individuals in small groups, and to network with larger organizations throughout the world, and it’s something that none of use can do alone., but together we can be extremely powerful.”

 

“We will find new ways to say People matter,

and this conspiracy will be bold.”

 

A Conspiracy of Decency.

From,“Today is not a good day for war.”

Capra Press, available from www.amazon.co.jp

 

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