Response to the
tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001
by Daisaku Ikeda, September 22, 2001
In the aftermath of the terrible shock of the tragic
events on Sept. 11, I extend my deepest sympathies to all those
affected. From the bottom of my heart, I pray for the victims,
and I pray that their families may find inner strength, healing
and, eventually, renewed happiness.
It is impossible not to be outraged at the senseless
loss of so many lives. And yet it is not the numbers that make
this tragedy so horrific. Every single person lost was irreplaceable
and immensely precious -- a much-loved sister, father, son, mother
or friend. Each individual's life contained infinite possibilities
waiting to be realized. In the most terrible manner imaginable,
we have been reminded of the immense value of human life.
In all its teachings, Buddhism stresses how sacred
and precious life -- especially human life -- is. One scripture
reads: 'A single day of life is worth more than all the treasures
of the universe.' Terrorism, which so cruelly robs people of life,
can never be excused or justified by any reason or cause. It is
an absolute evil. And when such acts are committed in the name
of religion, it demonstrates the utter spiritual bankruptcy of
As human beings sharing a common home, we have
all been impacted by this terrible deed. In the words of Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr., 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'
We must unite across differences of nationality and faith in order
to create a world free of injustice, violence and terror.
I call for a just and equitable international
tribunal to be established to try those responsible for acts of
terrorism and other crimes against humanity.
But the struggle against terrorism requires more
than short-term international cooperation. It requires a profound
reexamination of the nature of human civilization. For much of
our history, humanity has been trapped in vicious cycles of hatred
and reprisal. We must redouble our efforts to break this cycle
and transform distrust into trust. I believe that this is the
most effective and fundamental antidote to terrorism and its repugnant
worship of violence.
It is the function of evil to divide; to alienate
people from each other and divide one country from another. The
universe, this world and our own lives, are the stage for a ceaseless
struggle between hatred and compassion, the destructive and constructive
aspects of life. We must never let up, confronting evil at every
This attack was an ultimate manifestation of evil
and shows us the vilest depths to which human nature can sink.
In the end, the evil over which we must triumph is the impulse
toward hatred and destruction that resides in us all.
Unless we can achieve a fundamental transformation
within our own lives, so that we are able to perceive our intimate
connection with all our fellow human beings and feel their sufferings
as our own, we will never be free of conflict and war. In this
sense, I feel that a 'hard power' approach, one that relies on
military might, will not lead to a long-term, fundamental resolution.
I believe that dialogue holds the key to any lasting
solution. Now, more than ever, we must reach out in a further
effort to understand each other and engage in genuine dialogue.
Words spoken from the heart have the power to change a person's
life. They can even melt the icy walls of mistrust that separate
peoples and nations. We must expand our efforts to promote dialogue
between and among civilizations.
I am utterly convinced that we were not born into
this world to hate and destroy each other. We must restore and
renew our faith in humanity and in each other. We must never lose
sight of the fact that we can still make the 21st century an era
free from the flames of war and violence -- an era in which all
people may live in peace. To this end, we must strive to make
a profound reverence for life the prevailing spirit of our times
and our planet. I believe that this is the greatest and most enduring
way to honor the memory of the victims of this enormous tragedy."
Daisaku Ikeda is a Buddhist philosopher, author
and peace proponent, and recipient of NAPF's World Citizen Award.
He is also the President of the Soka Gakkai International, a lay
Buddhist organization and an NGO with more than 12 million members
in 177 countries and territories around the world. A central theme
of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's works is his probing into the
transformative means by which human dignity and peace can be at
once accessible and extended to all humanity.