From War to Peace

A peace mural in South Sudan [© Sven Torfinn/Panos Pictures/Uniphoto Press]

The misery of war and conflict has been deeply etched into the history of humanity, perhaps never more so than in the past century. Is war an inevitability that humans are fated to suffer? The answer lies surely not in the nature of our biology but in the strength of the human spirit and our capacity to exercise wisdom.

In 2014, the world marked 100 years since the start of World War I, and this year we ring in 70 years since the end of World War II and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The incomparable destructiveness of these conflicts compelled a collective self-reflection as a global society that was perhaps as unique in history as the scale of the tragedies themselves. While commemorations are now being held across the world to contemplate the shadow of these catastrophic events, war and conflict continue to claim countless lives and cause unimaginable suffering.

In the face of this stark reality, the observance of these anniversaries offers the opportunity to ask what lessons we have learned from the wars and conflicts of the past and to embark with renewed determination toward the realization of a truly peaceful world, reminding ourselves that, in the words of the Preamble to the UNESCO Constitution, "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed."

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda writes: "The future is determined by the depth and intensity of the vow or pledge embraced by people living in the present moment. As human beings, we possess the capacity to take steps to ensure that no one else, including future generations, must endure the sufferings that afflict us today."

This issue of the SGI Quarterly brings together a diverse selection of articles that demonstrate how people the world over have been energized by their experiences of war and conflict to dedicate themselves to building a lasting future of peace. It is our wish that readers will be inspired by these articles and filled with a sense of hope that a peaceful future lies within our reach.