Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning and Dialogue

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3. It's Critical to Maintain Faith in People's Potential for Good

Faced with so much cruel and thoughtless human behavior, it is tempting to succumb to cynicism and despair about the ability of individuals to make a positive difference in our world. From this position, one is left with only the option of top down, coercive solutions—i.e., the kinds that rarely, if ever, stick. As a response to widespread despair, faith in human potential for good should not be confused with unthinking optimism; rather, this faith maintains, based on the evidence of actual positive behavior, that humans have the inherent capacity, individually and collectively, to overcome self-imposed limitations and impact the world in creative as opposed to destructive ways. Our faith in the power of dialogue and humanistic education depends on faith in people's potential for good.

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We must recognize the long-term nature of the effort required and we must maintain faith in the potential for good that resides in all people. Rooted in this faith, we must address this potential and make it manifest through the quiet yet essential spiritual endeavor of inter-civilizational dialogue carried across the full spectrum of perspectives and on a multiplicity of levels. (2004)

In the course of conducting these exchanges [with historian Arnold Toynbee], I have gained a strong confidence in the rich reserves of goodness that are equally the possession of all people, regardless of the civilization into which they were born, or the cultural milieu in which they were formed. (2004)



Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue
396 Harvard Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Phone: (617) 491.1090 Fax: (617) 491.1169

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