From A Culture of Violence to A Culture of Peace Exhibition opens in Kuala Lumpur and Attracts 16,000 Visitors

Sep 1, 2007 ◄ Back to list

Fifty years have passed since the second president of Soka Gakkai Josei Toda made an impassioned declaration for the abolition of nuclear weapons, condemning them as "absolute evil." These Weapons of Mass Destruction, however, have continued to proliferate, putting the existence of life on the verge of total destruction.

Inheriting the spirit of Toda, SGI has created a new exhibition entitled "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit." The exhibition was held at the Wisma Kebudayaan SGM from September 1-16, 2007, co-sponsored by Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM) and Physicians for Peace and Social Responsibility (PPSR), an affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

Via imagery and words of leading world figures, the exhibition aims to raise the members' and public's awareness of such weapons besides showing them how they could do their part in the elimination of these weapons before it is too late. Divided into five sections, the exhibition displays information about ensuring human security, arms-based security, need for changing worldview, global efforts for peace and SGI's commitment to nuclear abolition.

On hand to officiate the opening of the exhibition on September 2, 2007 was Dato' Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, witnessed by his wife, Datin Seri Sharifah Aziah; Tan Sri Prof Emeritus Dato' (Dr) Hj lsmail Hussein, President of GAPENA, the Federation of National Writers Association; Tan Sri Kamarul Ariffin, former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, National Art Gallery Malaysia; Dato' Dr Ronald S. McCoy, President of Physicians for Peace and Social Responsibility (PPSR) and Dato' Mahadev Shankar, Chairman of Gandhi Memorial Trust.

In his speech, Syed Harold mentioned the need for understanding to fill the present gap in order to create a harmonious society in our ailing world. He was very impressed by the fact that "we are trying to inculcate into us the spiritual create goodwill, friendliness and integrity amongst mankind."

With regard to total banning the elimination of nuclear weapons, Syed Hamid's thoughts echoed President Toda's wish: "We must not be in a state of helplessness. If it is human created, it is also human beings that is responsible to stop and move forward in order for us to get rid of nuclear weapons." In his speech, Syed Hamid also highlighted the importance of a culture of peace, education and dialogue as tools to solve problems and build deep connections among peoples.

A public petition, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), was also carried out to garner support to for the abolishment of nuclear weapons through a nuclear weapons convention.

Later in the afternoon after the opening, a forum entitled "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" was held. Chaired by Tan Sri Kamarul Ariffin, the speakers were Dato' Dr Ronald McCoy, Dato' Shankar and Prof Dr Christopher Boey. One in spirit, each of them sought to drive home the message that peace can only be achieved through mutual understanding, not violence.

Dato' McCoy started by giving insightful views of the current world situation and the impossibility of abolishing the weapons at the moment. Referring to the abolishment of slavery, he brought hopes to turn this bleak and helpless present into a world free of nuclear weapons.

Dato' Shankar, in a more informal manner, sought to bring these dangers, hopes and messages closer to the audience. He related moral stories to rouse the audience out of apathy and escapism besides demonstrating the self-defeating nature of violence. Regretting how our society has turned up, he made reference to his student years in the Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur where all students were respected as human beings without being judgemental about their race, creeds and nationalities. He advocated using soft power to overcome violence and seemingly impossible situations, giving abundant examples from around the world, showing the applicability of such powers.

Transforming the human spirit was the theme of Prof Boey's speech where he first examined the reasons why the elimination of such deadly weapons has not been achieved and pointed out that "anger" was the root cause. As such, the only way to change this is by achieving human revolution and building human solidarity. He also stressed on humanistic educational and cultural exchanges between nations to achieve these ends.