Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 31: The Great Path to World Peace [31.10]

31.10 Education: The Foundation for Peace

President Ikeda has consistently stated that a world filled with the laughter of mothers and children is one of genuine peace. In this selection, he stresses that humanistic education is the key to building an indestructible foundation for peace.

“In children’s shining eyes, do we see national borders?
In their laughing voices, do we hear ethnic differences?
When they are sad, do their tears differ according to their religion?
Bringing peace to the world’s children—this is the earnest wish of humankind.”

All the world’s children have the right to live in peace. In every country, mothers and children want to lead peaceful and secure lives together with their families. But, in reality, even this modest wish remains unfulfilled for countless families.

The American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. observed: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”1 This message could be recast as: “War anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere.” We cannot truly be at peace or enjoy happiness as long as somewhere on our planet people are threatened by war or suffer from starvation.

How can we build peace? I believe that the surest, most fundamental path to peace is found in truly humanistic education.

Looking back over human history, we are confronted with the paradox that wars are most often started by people with the highest levels of education, members of society’s elite. This is indeed one of the great tragedies of humankind. Individuals who have received a fine education, pursued learning, and acquired knowledge have failed to use these accomplishments to help the people and ensure peace. Instead, they have used them to assert their superiority over others and to profit personally.

Moreover, the interests of the state have often taken precedence over people’s needs—a situation that continues to this day. This can only be described as an abuse of education.

When I was a child, the Japanese educational system was designed to support the war and glorify the nation. At that very time, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, founder of Soka education, declared that the purpose of education is the happiness of children. He refused to let government oppression intimidate him, and ultimately brought his noble life to a close in prison.

I believe that now more than ever we need to widely implement the kind of education for peace and happiness that Mr. Makiguchi advocated. We must teach children the preciousness of life and a spirit of respect for others. We must foster in them courage and awareness as world citizens and help them develop the wisdom to put their knowledge to work for the happiness of all people.

That is the way to build an indestructible foundation for peace in the 21st century. Indeed, it is the only way.

From the preface to Haha to ko no seiki (The Century of Mothers and Children), vol. 3, published in Japanese in May 2002.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.

  • *1Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” in The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson (New York: IPM in association with Warner Books, 1998), p. 189.