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October 17, 2013 - Culture of Peace with Sergio Duarte

Former United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio de Queiroz Duarte spoke at the 149th lecture in the series (on July 28). As someone who firmly believes that the first step toward peace begins with listening to the voices of the people, Mr. Duarte always tries to leave as much time as possible to respond to questions. Indeed, the world’s leading thinkers all place great importance on the power of dialogue. On the day Mr. Duarte spoke, there were many questions from the audience, and time had run out before all the questions were answered. When the lecture closed with thunderous applause, the audience assumed the event had come to an end. Aware, however, that one young man who had kept raising his hand did not have his question answered, Mr. Duarte walked over to him and asked what his question was. Although startled, the young man managed to respond by asking what the youth of Japan could do to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons. “Choose good leaders!” was Mr. Duarte’s reply. His words reflected his fervent aspiration that the younger generation would build a peaceful future.

March 8, 2013 World Tribune

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We have an exciting announcement! Last weekend, Our New Clear Future unveiled its new logo at the SGI-USA Student Division conference!

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The three circles signify the union of all different aspects of ourselves toward fostering a world free of nuclear weapons.  They also represent differing worldviews that people may have, but that there is always a common ground.  

Along with the logo, the movement’s new tagline was announced: “Our World, Our Choice.” We hope to inspire youth of America to create a world that they want to live in, emphasizing that it is their “choice” to build a society where dignity of life is upheld. The three circles of the logo also signify “Our World,” “Our Choice” and “Our New Clear Future.”

To stay up-to-date on the ONCF movement, find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ANewClearFuture and Twitter at https://twitter.com/anewclearfuture.

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"Today, many people have given up on the possibility of nuclear abolition. But peace is always a competition between resignation and hope. Indifference and acquiescence in the face of the negative, destructive functions of life is, ultimately, to side with the forces of destruction."

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#ONCF Movement Highlighted in Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Newsletter

On Monday, April 22, 2013 the SGI-USA campus club at the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University hosted guest speaker Dr. Tad Daley, J.D., Ph.D. for a talk entitled “Our New Clear Future: Choose a World Without Nuclear Weapons.”  Their event was highlighted in the school’s newsletter. Congratuations!

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sgiusastudentdivision:

UCR campus club preparing for “Our New Clear Future” and Intro to Buddhism dialogues during lunch time!

#ONCF dialogue at the UCR campus!

Source: sgiusastudentdivision
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Nuclear weapons do not distinguish between combatants and noncombatants; they destroy whole cities, killing vast numbers of people instantaneously. Their impact on the natural environment is severe, and the aftereffects of radiation exposure inflict longterm suffering on people. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made evident the indescribably inhumane nature of these weapons.

What is it, then, that is used to justify their continued possession?

It is, I believe, the same psychology that brought humanity to the point of total war. To restate this using the frameworks I explored earlier in this proposal, it is the way of thinking that monolithically identifies everyone on the opposing side, regardless of individual differences, as the enemy. This denies the possibility of any other way of relating to them, leaving only the option of a violent severing of all ties. Is this not an ultimate disavowal of the dignity of life?

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By Eric Reker and Anna Ikeda

When we engage in dialogue with youth about nuclear abolition, one question often comes up: “How does this relate to my life?”  True, discussions around nuclear abolition usually involve policies and politics, and it is only natural for young people today to feel disconnected from the issue.  The Cold War is over, and for many of us, nuclear weapons were never a fear we actually grappled with. Nuclear weapons have always existed in our lives. Abolishing nuclear weapons seems so far away from our day-to-day activities.  So, how does it relate to our lives?

Recently, the SGI-USA Student Division held its annual conference at the Florida Nature and Culture Center.  On the second day of the conference, we presented a session entitled “Trailblazers for Our New Clear Future: Creating a Culture of Peace Through Dialogue.”  In one of the exercises, we asked the audience a question: “What is the atomic bomb in your heart?”

This question was originally inspired by SGI President Ikeda’s “Building Global Solidarity Toward Nuclear Abolition” (2009), which became the foundation for the Our New Clear Future movement:

If we are to put the era of nuclear terror behind us, we must struggle against the real “enemy.” That enemy is not nuclear weapons per se, nor is it the states that possess or develop them. The real enemy that we must confront is the ways of thinking that justify nuclear weapons; the readiness to annihilate others when they are seen as a threat or as a hindrance to the realization of our objectives.

If we think about it, we all “annihilate others” in our daily lives.  You may get angry at your parents if they are getting on your nerves, or you may fight with your siblings.  Or you may roll your eyes at your friends and call them names when you are not in agreement.  Those tendencies, when amplified, can lead to bullying, violence, and ultimately the justification to possess and use nuclear weapons.  We call this tendency – often a manifestation of the world of Anger in the concept of Buddhism – “the atomic bomb in our hearts.”  And it is these feelings and tendencies that are “the claws that lie hidden in the very depths of [nuclear] weapons” that President Toda pointed out in his “Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons” in September 1957.

The October 2010 issue of the SGI Quarterly, “A New Era of Nuclear Abolition,” states:

When people in positions of power and authority become caught up in the snares of Anger, or when this world begins to predominate in society, the consequences can be catastrophic. As SGI President Ikeda describes, to one in this state, “everything appears as a means or a tool to the fulfillment of egotistical desires and impulses. In inverse proportion to the scale of this inflated arrogance, the existence of others—people, cultures, nature—appears infinitely small and insignificant. It becomes a matter of no concern to harm or even kill others trivialized in this way. It is this state of mind that would countenance the use of nuclear weapons… People in such a state of life are blinded, not only to the horrific suffering their actions wreak, but to human life itself.”

At the conference, the youth engaged in deep discussion when sharing their thoughts on the atomic bomb in their own hearts.  For many of them, it was perhaps the first time they could draw a direct connection between their lives and the Our New Clear Future movement. 

As we celebrate the 55th anniversary of President Toda’s courageous declaration, let us challenge the atomic bomb that we each possess in our own hearts.  When we are able to dismantle that internal bomb, we are taking a significant step for creating a future without nuclear threat.  

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by Clara A. Reyes,

Pennsylvania Zone New Clear Future Correspondent

As the Student Division of Pennsylvania Zone continues to prepare the debut of the antinuclear exhibition titled, From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit exhibit at Temple University in July, many dialogues are being held in our community center.

On June 24th, 19 Youth Division members studied and discussed SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2012 Peace Proposal titled “Human Security and Sustainability: Sharing Reverence for the Dignity of Life.”  In his proposal, President Ikeda covers twelve major points, four of which were discussed: human security, a focus on empowerment, a clear future vision and a shared vow (Ikeda, 2012). In the synopsis of the proposal, President Ikeda states: “Three aspects of this text (“On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”) are especially relevant;…the philosophical stance that the highest priority of the state be the well-being and security of ordinary people; a call for the establishment of a worldview rooted in a vital sense of our interconnectedness; and the insight that the greatest empowerment is realized when, through dialogue, we advance from a shared concern to a shared actions oriented pledge or vow” (Ikeda, 5).

The PA Zone Student Division wanted to answer a specific question: Why is the philosophy of humanism important in the discussion of nuclear weapons? All of the youth present offered very direct and sincere opinions in the dialogue. One Young Men’s Division member started the conversation by saying that humanism means seeing everyone as valuable and “if everyone is valuable there is no need for nuclear weapons.” Mia Harvey, our PA Zone YWD Student Division leader stated: “Giving up nuclear weapons will not instill fear in the people. It will do the opposite.” One Young Women’s Division member named Genieve noted that nuclear weapons seem to be “elusive” since there is a lack of discussion about them, and because of that it seems “impossible to tackle the issue.” However, the discussion facilitator and YMD Area Leader Eddie Chang pointed out that it is the responsibility of the Student Division and Youth Division to have dialogue, explaining that if we did not we will continue to live in a nightmare.

Recently, the SGI-USA Student Division has taken several “cyber steps” toward 2015 and building consensus for a world without nuclear weapons. This dialogue was recorded on Crowdmap, an online tool to track dialogue around the world. To follow the movements dialogue, go to: http://newclearfuture.crowdmap.com. In addition, you can find further information on Facebook by liking our page “Our New Clear Future” and following us on Twitter by searching @anewclearfuture and hashtagging #newclearfuture. 

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by Kaori Dina Sato,

North Zone New Clear Future Correspondent

An oboe performance of Bach’s Air on the G String by Sachiko Murata opened the night of Boston University’s Nuclear Disarmament Conference on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012. A clip of an interview of an atomic bomb survivor was shown after the performance, setting the tone for what would be a reflective evening centered on Dr. Ira Helfand’s lecture entitled, “The Medical Consequences of Nuclear War.” Yumi Masui, the Boston Region Student Division Leader, introduced the SGI-USA’s mission as a lay Buddhist organization as well as Student Division’s goal for eradicating nuclear weapons through dialogue and human revolution. Dr. Helfand of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) came to Boston University School of Medicine and spoke frankly as he shared the most current data and research, revealing the repercussions of nuclear war on the global economy, environment, and humanity as a whole. The consequences he described were sobering and resonant.

Dr. Helfand used a model of a 20-megaton bomb, the equivalent to 20 million tons of TNT, used to attack New York City as an example of a possible limited nuclear war between the United States and Russia to paint a picture of the reality we face in world with nuclear weapons. Within 1/1000second, a fireball would form reaching out for 2 miles in every direction. This entire area would reach a temperature of 20 million degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the temperature of the surface of the sun. Everything within this 2-mile radius from the epicenter would be vaporized. In an area of 4 miles in every direction, winds would be in excess of 650 miles per hour and blast pressures greater than 25 pounds per square inch. This would destroy anything human beings build, including underground shelters. To a distance of 6 miles in every direction, the heat would be so intense automobile sheet metal would melt. To a distance of 10 miles in every direction, winds would be in excess of 200 miles per hour and blast pressures would be greater than 10 pounds per square inch. This amount of mechanical force would completely level masonry and wood-frame buildings leaving behind steel skeletons of more modern buildings. To a distance of 16 miles in every direction, everything flammable would ignite. These fires would merge over the course of 30 minutes, creating a huge firestorm 32 miles across, encompassing 800 square miles. The temperature in this area increase to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit and all the oxygen would be consumed. Needless to say, all living thing within 32 miles from the epicenter would die. Within the first half hour, a blast of this magnitude would kill 6 to 8 million people.

Powerful bombs that would produce even more damage than a 20-megaton bomb exist in both United States and Russia’s arsenals. The model used actually underestimates the amount of destruction caused by more modernized weapons. It goes without saying, the initial impact of the nuclear warheads would cause a mass casualty, however, Dr. Helfand emphasized a more dire consequence of nuclear war – environmental disruption. 150 teragrams of soot would be blasted into the upper atmosphere, darkening the sky. Within three days, this covering would cause an average drop in temperature around the globe of 15 degrees Fahrenheit. For three years after the explosion, the earth would be covered in frost. Dr. Helfand details, “There would be no agriculture, no food production, and ecosystems would collapse leaving very little life, if any, on this planet.”


The consequences that Dr. Helfand described were far from what many others and I expected from the lecture. What I understood about the effects of nuclear war paled in comparison to the apocalyptic results that Dr. Helfand and his team of researchers discovered. Despite the heaviness of the topic, he encouraged the members of the audience to use the information presented as a means to ensure that others be educated about the topic and to spread the factual, conclusive reasons why nuclear abolition must be achieved. Dr. Helfand stated, “these weapons are not a fact of nature, and they are far less an act of God. They are weapons that we have built with our own hands by the decisions that we have taken and we can and must make the decision to get rid of these weapons.” The strictness and urgency of Dr. Helfand’s closing words were very much akin to President Daisaku Ikeda’s call to “abandon the habit of studiously ignoring the menace posed to Earth by nuclear weapons and [to] instead demonstrate that a world without nuclear weapons can indeed be realized in our lifetimes” (Peace Proposal, 2009). The “Medical Consequences of Nuclear War” lecture was the crucial stepping-stone in my understanding of my mentor’s dream – nay, intent – of ridding this precious world of the weapons humans have created with their own hands. Although I have much to learn, the Nuclear Disarmament Conference at Boston University revealed to me two vital things: (1) the importance of educating ourselves and the public about the threat of nuclear weapons and (2) the role we play as students to see out the progress and eventual completion of the New Clear Future movement. As undergraduate and graduate students, we have the greatest privilege of expanding our knowledge and, more importantly, our wisdom through higher education. Higher education lends itself to understanding our world through many different lenses and as Student Division members we have the incredible opportunity to combine our wisdom and faith into action.

Want to learn more about Physicians for Social Responsibility and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War? Check out their websites below!

http://www.psr.org/

http://www.ippnw.org/

 

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By Daniel Kunimoto,
New Clear Future Correspondent

Baltimore – In what normally are seminars related to world conflict and refugee matters, staff at the Baltimore Resettlement Center (BRC) in East Baltimore carried on a different kind of session during their monthly lunch seminar. This time it was a wide-ranging discussion on the power of dialogue in preventing nuclear warfare.

On May 25, I made a presentation based on SGI-USA’s Transforming the Human Spirit and Our New Clear Future to the resettlement services staff at the BRC. Their refugee and asylee clients arrive from all over the world. Ranging from helping clients learn about American cultural norms to supporting families build long term stability goals, the center has a long history of dynamically acclimating to the needs of these newly arriving Americans and providing them with both immediate and long range support for community development.

As a way to connect to issues beyond their services, the BRC provides monthly seminars during the lunch hour to inform and provide a discussion venue for community concerns, current events and other issues of interest that have a connection with their work.

As former staff and friend of the BRC, I took to the opportunity to provide some history and facts of nuclear weapons and facilitate a discussion among the participants. The seminar started with a PowerPoint presentation explaining the purpose and goal of SGI-USA’s peace movements in the community.

Our New Clear Future, started as a student movement within the organization, is quickly gaining recognition outside of its membership and reaching beyond campuses triggering dialogue in different spheres of society.

In the middle of the presentation, we watched a Youtube video clip that jarred some of the participants. The short clip was recorded by a young girl, possibly as a presentation for a grade school project. She questioned listeners on whether nuclear weapons were necessary in our world today. Her concluding message was clear: Let’s make more and improve its technology to win world peace through fear.

A dynamic dialogue commenced, starting with reactions from the video, raising concerns about the oversimplification of the realities of modern warfare. At the heart of the discussion, the question of what each participant could practically do about the matter was raised. As we centered our discussion back to our everyday realities, the power of dialogue surfaced as a practical means to contribute towards changing the tide of public opinion.

Some questioned the effectiveness of one-to-one dialogue as a means toward stopping the destruction of untold proportions caused by nuclear blasts. But others thought that their approach to their work may inform some viable solution to the world’s worst problems. The BRC regularly supports refugee families pull themselves out of despair into lives of hope and possibility through working with each one individually. If we apply this same one-to-one philosophy on a bigger scale, it’s reasonable to expect positive results as well.

Only by believing that the care and compassion extended to one family, one individual also makes a difference on a larger scale can true progress last. Dialogue is a commitment to such efforts. It is an exchange between lives at the most grassroots level. When proponents of a culture of dialogue speak out without concern of how we’ll be received, the doors to a new future will open without fail.

At least those who participated in the lunch seminar had a glimpse of several possible futures. And a chance to believe in a future of their choice.

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by David Reker,

North Zone New Clear Future Correspondent

More than just percentages, surveys demonstrate the disparities and spaces of growth. The SGI, in Japan and other countries, continually makes tremendous efforts in gauging the populace of nuclear weapons stockpiling and usage. Recently, in February 2012, the Soka Gakkai in Japan collected information on the issue. One of the most astounding results is that 82% of respondents answered, “…they thought hearing personal accounts of war or of the effects of an atomic bomb detonation might change people’s attitudes toward nuclear weapons.” [1]

In another SGI survey, conducted in 2010, illustrated that despite 72% of respondents     do not agree with the use of nuclear weapons, 72% answered that they also would like to engage in peace activities, but do not have an idea what they can do. [2] Though these numbers have to be carefully interpreted as not a one-to-one correlation between disagreeing with nuclear weapons and not having an idea of what concrete actions to take, these figures show that while the morals and ethics of nuclear weapons are more commonly shared, the greater challenge is empowering others to take action for nuclear disarmament.

In order to accomplish President Ikeda’s mission of nuclear abolition in 2030, the dialogues we conduct have to be equally about educating people in one-on-one dialogue, but also empowering individuals to stand. As we conduct our dialogues with fervor, it is equally important that no one feels disenfranchised. Indeed, as the Student Division members now are quickly realizing, the effort of nuclear abolition requires the inclusion of everyone who wants to see the world liberated from the chains of nuclear weapons. One of the greatest tools we still have now, in this generation, is that of survivors willing to share their stories. As more surveys will surely be conducted, it is important not to lose sight of our efforts to accomplish our goals, in life and in our activities. In the case of this New Clear Future movement, dialogue is the key to empowering individuals who want to remove nuclear weapons from the world, and to engage others who may believe otherwise.

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We should set a target of 2015 for the release—or better yet, the signing—of an agreed-upon draft of the basic framework treaty. Hiroshima and Nagasaki would provide a suitable venue for this, at a nuclear abolition summit to mark the effective end of the nuclear era. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, scheduled for 2015, provides a good opportunity for such a summit.

— Daisaku Ikeda in his 30th annual peace proposal submitted to the United Nations

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by Kaori Dina Sato,
North Zone New Clear Future Correspondent

In an increasingly interdependent world, we share responsibility for the security of all human beings. Is it possible to transform a culture of violence into a culture of peace? 

Students at Cornell University hosted the exhibit that addresses the heart of the above question. This nuclear abolition exhibit— From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spiritwas organized by the Soka Gakkai International, a worldwide lay Buddhist association that promotes peace, culture and education through personal change and social contribution. It was created in 2007 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Soka Gakkai Second President Josei Toda’s Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons made on Sept 8, 1957. It was launched on Sept 8, 2007 in New York at a civil society forum to galvanize public opinion toward the abolition of nuclear weapons and the creation of a culture of peace, specifically aimed at mobilizing youth. It has been shown in more than 200 venues in over 24 countries.


What was your experience leading up to the exhibit opening?

It was very hard for me to set up planning meetings and get as many campus club members as possible to be involved into the preparation. But many of them were very cooperative and took initiative in promoting, contacting professors, etc. to make the event happen.

How do you think the event has affected you and your understanding of Student Division’s mission to abolish nuclear weapons?
Through the promotion of the exhibition, I was able to talk about the Nichiren Buddhism and the Soka Gakkai International to my friends to whom I had never talked about my religion and had deep conversation with them… Also, it was great that I was able to enjoy the discussion on nuclear abolition with my friends after the opening ceremony.  


How do you think the event has affected your campus club?
It seems that many members enjoyed the preparation processes and the actual event despite their busy schedules and they were very excited that 53 participants came to the opening ceremony


How do you think the event has affected your community?
We were able to receive positive feedback from the community. One staff at the statistic department contacted me regarding the availability of the exhibition panels (it seems that she wants to exhibit them at the cultural festival in September in downtown Ithaca.) Also, one of the local news reporters also showed interest in featuring the Nichiren Buddhism and its practice at the local article.

 

Please share any goals you may have accomplished or would like to accomplish in the future!
I would like to further develop the Cornell Campus Club next year as a way for on-campus kosen-rufu movement. I hope that more guests will come to our monthly campus club meeting. And we would like to participate in other on-campus events (e.g. inter-faith events). I have already confirmed the participation in one of the orientation events happening at the beginning of the fall semester, so I hope that many students will show interest in the Cornell Campus Club. 

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Activity Report by Clara Reyes, Pennsylvania Zone New Clear Future Correspondent  

Two years ago, the SGI-USA kicked off the “Rock the Era” campaign which culminated in large scale festivals around the United States.  After the festivals, youth of the SGI-USA were determined to keep up that dynamic rhythm of coming together every second and fourth Sunday of the month to refresh our vow to fight for kosen-rufu—the movement to spread peace and happiness—together with our mentor, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda.  On May 13, Youth Division in Philadelphia held special Four Divisional Rock the Era Meeting, commemorating Mother’s Day. It began with the Future Division leading the morning prayer and a special performance from the Young Men’s Division for the mother’s in attendance.  Afterwards, Young Women’s Division Area and Student Division leader, Mia Harvey led a discussion about nuclear weapons based on SGI President Ikeda’s 2012 Peace Proposal.  The discussion revolved around questions such as, “What is peace?” and “What does a completely disarmed world look like?” The youth in the room took the questions very seriously. The discussion spanned many topics: from global tension, military posture, fear to understand differences, leadership and hope.  For example, Alex Muller thought that nuclear weapons cause fear and that fear creates tension between states.  He said that “If they were abolished, it would ease the tension and people would be able to live.”  In response, another young man, Eddie, stated: “That fear you’re talking about are devilish functions.  It is the pride and ego of each individual to let these weapons exist.  As disciples of Dr. Ikeda we can’t wait for him to [abolish nuclear weapons].  We must do it ourselves, in reply to our mentor!”  At the end of the discussion, Mia Harvey noted that everyone’s answers were varied but united by an underlying current of peace and the willingness to make peace a reality. At the end of the meeting, participants left joyful and inspired to make a change. 

This meeting was only a small part of the larger goal of the Student Division in Philadelphia.  Based on the same spirit found in this meeting—a spirit of honest dialogue and raising awareness—the Student Division are bringing the SGI exhibition titled, “From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit” to Temple University in Philadelphia.  The goal is to make this nuclear abolition exhibition available for everyone in the local SGI organization, other universities and the city of Philadelphia at large.  Plans are still in the making, but the date is set for July 7th to July 14th!!  

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Hope Schmid is our New Clear Future correspondent from Pennsylvania Zone! Welcome to our team, Hope! 

"Hope transforms pessimism into optimism. Hope is invincible. Hope changes everything. It changes winter into summer, darkness into dawn, descent into ascent, barrenness into creativity, agony into joy. Hope is the sun. It is light. It is passion. It is the fundamental force for life’s blossoming." ~Daisaku Ikeda

My name is Hope Schmid and I am a graduating Senior from high school in the class of 2012. On one level my future goals are centered around obtaining a degree in Chemistry and helping to create efficient, organic solar cells so that maybe someday, everyone will have access to clean energy that will protect our environment. But just like this quote, I want to turn pessimism into optimism. I want to change winter into summer for those who trudge in deep snow every moment of their lives with no place to turn. I want to brighten the sky with a dawn of peace and vanquish the night behind me. 

For me, participating in the New Clear Future initiative is one way I can contribute to a better, peaceful world. I am hopeful that my efforts will help others see that peace is possible and that nuclear weapons must be abolished. My determination is to encourage everyone to take part in creating a peaceful world whether that be through art, science, literature, or any other means. Creative expression is powerful. Therefore, through my articles and essays published on the New Clear Future Newsletter, I hope that everyone will blossom in peace and understanding.