Two Japanese organizations meet for a youth debate on religion and ecology

Scholas Japan and Sukyo Mahikari held a series of interreligious and intercultural meetings for young people.

Tokyo, 19 August 2021. Scholas Occurrentes and the religious organization Sukyo Mahikari have joined forces this August to hold a series of interreligious and intercultural meetings for young people, focusing on the topics of religion and the environment.

Driven by the Scholas Japan community, and in keeping with its mission to answer the call to create a culture of the encounter, bringing together young people from all over the world in an education that generates meaning, this cycle was held from 2 to 16 August. More than 50 young representatives attended from 17 countries: Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Spain, United States, France, Haiti, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Japan as host country, seeking to recreate spaces where to share and debate on issues of education, religion and ecology.

Thanks to the Scholas network worldwide, and with the help of the extensive Sukyo Mahikari network in Europe, North America, Latin America and Africa, and the Myochi-kay organization, the event encouraged these young people, who, overcoming cultural and language barriers, shared experiences that allowed them to reflect and create together a new way of relating to themselves, to others and to nature.

The closing event, on 16 August, was attended by leading figures from the Japanese artistic and sporting scenes, as well as Japanese authorities, such as Kenya Akiba, member of the Japanese House of Representatives; Sasaki Takaaki, executive director of Sukyo Mahikari; Mari Okabe, journalist, actress and writer; Masayuki Okano, general manager of Japan’s professional football team and former professional football player; and Daisuke Hoshi, member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and former professional football player.

Guests also included Pasquale Policastro, professor at the University of Szczecin (Poland), and vice-president of the GreenHeart Foundation, as well as José María del Corral, global director of Scholas.

Young people take the floor

On 13 August, Scholas celebrated its eighth anniversary. Over this time, it has detected that young people have a need for a space where they can be heard; they want to be able to get involved in their environment and bring about change in it.

Sae, from the Scholas Japan community, noted: “Apart from this mindset, this desire to protect the environment, I didn’t know exactly what to do, what specific actions to take. But after these meetings I now have a better idea of what I can do in my day-to-day life. Above all, I understood that we cannot understand ourselves as something separate from nature, because we are part of nature.”

Then Diego, from Mexico— and with a 14-hour time difference—, also shared his testimonial: “I take with me the fact that many of our ideas converge, and that it is necessary to put them into practice. We can make change happen once we turn them into action.” Afterwards, he shared a haiku, a genre of short Japanese poetry that inspired all the participants during the meetings: “In harmony with this earth, I live happily.”

After listening to the young participants, Kenya Akiba, member of the Japanese House of Representatives, shared these words: “I was very impressed by the fact that young people like you are discussing these very important topics such as climate change and environmental issues. The reflections and realisations that were shared Today are very impressive…I think the actions of each individual are what changes the world, step by step. I think the realisations and reflections that were shared Today shows that this is going to be possible. There is a quote I want to share with all of you, from John Lennon, the musician, and it says: A dream that is dreamt by one person is merely a dream, but a dream that is dreamt together would definitely come true. Thank you to everyone who have participated from all over the world, all my respect to everyone.”

Sasaki Takaaki, executive director of Sukyo Mahikari, offered a few words:

“As I listen to you, I keep thinking about the fact that Planet Earth is irreplaceable for this new world in which we want to live in peace. People in the past believed that they lived within nature, and tried to live in harmony with it, yet now we believe we have somehow conquered nature, and desertification is spreading in many places. We have to put enormous efforts to restore Earth to its original state. I hope you will all succeed in this.”

Lastly, José María del Corral, world director of Scholas, shared a few words with all the young people. “We speak different languages, we may come from different cultures and religions, but nature is our common language. Global warming shows us that nature has long had a fever, difficulty breathing and other symptoms. The only possible vaccine is the vaccine of an education that returns to the origin and generates meaning,” he concluded.

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