The Passion and Energy of Youth

[Tom Stoddart/Getty Images]

Josei Toda (1900-58), the second president of the Soka Gakkai, declared toward the end of his life that the 21st century would be created by the power and passion of youth. Having witnessed the tragic rise of Japanese militarism and the devastation of World War II, Toda saw in the qualities of youth--conviction, courage, hope, revolt against injustice, the inherent energy of change--the possibility of redirecting the current of history toward a universal ideal of peace. He knew that this could only happen if young people were given the chance to exercise responsibility and the opportunity to display and develop their potential; if they were inspired by humane ideals and life-to-life encouragement. This hope and trust in the capabilities of youth continues to underlie the SGI's global movement for peace, culture and education.

"Youth" does not signify simply a particular age range. As the poet Samuel Ullman wrote, "Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind . . . Nobody grows old by merely a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals." To believe in youth is to believe in human potential--that it is never too early, or too late, to begin to live an engaged life, and never time to cease doing so.

It is in the belief that now, more than ever, the world requires of each of us the energetic, youthful pursuit of creative and constructive ideals, that this issue of the SGI Quarterly looks at how young people around the world today are discovering and giving expression to a spirit of activism and social contribution.