1999 World Citizenship Award Acceptance Speech
"It is my belief
that a world citizen is first and foremost someone who
is always learning from the world. It is someone who serves
the world wholeheartedly, someone who struggles to bring
a better world into being."
The 1999 World Citizenship Award was presented
to Daisaku Ikeda by David Krieger, President of the Nuclear
Age Peace Foundation for Daisaku Ikeda's outstanding and
inspiring actions as a world citizen. The following is
an excerpt from Daisaku Ikeda's acceptance speech at the
award ceremony held in Tokyo on March 16, 2000.
"It was with deep appreciation that
I just received this "World Citizenship Award."
This is truly a great honor. At the same time, my wife,
Kaneko, just received the singular honor of being conferred
with the title of "Peace Ambassador." I would
like to express our heartfelt gratitude and respect to
Dr. and Mrs. Krieger, and to the renowned medical scientist
Dr. Haller. Please accept my heartfelt welcome to Japan
and my thanks for the great efforts you have made to be
with us today, despite the many demands of your ceaseless
efforts to realize peace in our world.
Kaneko and I are determined to respond
to your kind trust and expectations by renewing our determination
to work for peace alongside the students of the Soka Schools
and with all young people throughout the world.
It is my belief that a world citizen is
first and foremost someone who is always learning from
the world. It is someone who serves the world wholeheartedly,
someone who struggles to bring a better world into being.
This is my understanding of world citizenship.
Socrates, A Historic Example of World
Who is human history can we regard as an
example of the world citizenship? One of the best examples
must be Socrates, the great philosopher. It is well known
that whenever Socrates was asked about his nationality,
he would reply with a smile, "I am a citizen on the
world." Dr. Krieger and I have discussed about Socrates
in our currently ongoing dialogue.
When I visited Athens in February of 1962,
I had a chance of visiting the site where Socrates is
believed to have been imprisoned. It was a small rock
cave with iron bars located under a bare rock wall. The
aged Socrates was thrown into this gloomy prison for crimes
of which he was innocent, and forced to commit suicide.
The human world is indeed frightening. I also continue
to fight against various lies.
I was strongly reminded of the example
of Mr. Makiguchi who, like Socrates, was persecuted by
the authorities and died in prison, as well as Mr. Toda
survived two years of great hardship in prison.
In any age, active world citizens, precisely
because they are correct and just in their views and because
they are an important presence in society, must fact the
jealous attacks of those wielding power in their respective
societies. This seems to be an inevitable rule of history,
something deeply ingrained, perhaps, in human nature itself.
Dr. Krieger has faced many challenges and
struggles, because of his calls for the abolition of nuclear
weapons and the abolition of war. This is very well known
and I respect him deeply for this. In his youth, he opposed
the war in Vietnam and maintained his stance as a conscientious
objector. As a result he faced severe criticism. Throughout
these trials, Dr. Krieger, together with his beloved wife
Carolee, persevered in his convictions. He exudes a truly
lion-esque nobility. Our Soka schools must always be a
model of peace, where there is zero tolerance for bullying,
abuse or violence in any form. Let us express our solidarity
with Dr. and Mrs. Krieger through a warm round of applause,
filled with our resolve to create a 21st century free
from war or nuclear weapons!
Plato and the Bonds Between Mentor and
Returning to Socrates, how was it that
he came to be looked up and respected as a teacher of
all humanity when, during this lifetime he was forced
to commit suicide in obscurity? This was made possible
through the spiritual struggles of his beloved mentor
and disciple Plato, who devoted his life to his mentor.
The bonds between mentor and disciple are even deeper
than those between parent and child, or between siblings.
It is the ultimate, eternal expression of our humanity.
On one occasion, Plato was invited to the
Mediterranean island of Sicily to confer with the powerful
autocrat (Dionysius the First). The haughty king asked
Plato, "Who is the happiest person in the world?"
He thought, of course, that Plato would name the king.
Plato, however, answered resolutely, "That
person would be my mentor, Socrates!"
Having dedicated my life to making the
world aware of the greatness of Presidents Makiguchi and
Toda, I cannot help but deeply empathize with the sentiments
that moved Plato to say this. Plato forthrightly remonstrated
with this arrogant king, this king of power, seeking to
rectify the king’s way of thinking.
The World Citizen Today
Even if it is a succession of ordeals,
the life of a person of justice is filled with happiness.
In contrast, the final outcome of a life of dishonesty
and deceit is always misery.
Upon returning to Athens, Plato founded
the Academia and poured his energy into fostering the
youth of the future. He knew that the future could only
be created by nurturing and raising people of talent.
Education is the ultimate goal of a person
living a genuine life. Since over 30 years ago, I had
already determined that my final undertaking would be
in education because education is the only noble venture
which would create the "next world."
Plato’s zeal and determination drew
people of genius to Academia from throughout the Hellenic
The students of the Academia embraced the
philosophy they learned from Plato – the virtues
of courage, conviction and earnest sincerity – as
they set out to all parts of the world as world citizens.
They were determined not to let their activities be restricted
to a single region, but to share the knowledge they gained
with the entire world."
The World Citizenship
Award for 1999 was presented by the Nuclear Age Peace
Foundation to Daisaku Ikeda, a distinguished Buddhist
philosopher, poet and peace leader. Daisaku Ikeda is the
founder and president of Soka Gakkai International, an
organization of over 12 million people throughout the
world. He is also the founder of Soka University, which
has branches in Tokyo and Los Angeles; the Institute of
Oriental Philosophy in London; the Boston Research Center
for the 21st Century; and the Toda Institute for Global
Peace and Policy Research.
Daisaku Ikeda is President
of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) since 1975, and Soka
Gakkai Honorary President, founder of the Clean Government
Party, recipient of over fifty honorary doctorates, and
over 170 awards and citations from cities around the world,
including "Honorary Citizen" from seventy cities.
He is a prolific writer and poet who has published works
in Japanese and 25 other languages on a variety of subjects,
from Buddhist philosophy to children's stories. His photographs
taken during travels in Japan and abroad have been compiled
into an exhibition, "Dialogue with Nature,"
shown around the world. He is the recipient of the U.N.
Peace Medal (1983), the International Tolerance Award
of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (1993), and the Rosa Parks
Humanitarian Award (1994).